Bulgarian Mayor Declares Pro-Forestry Act Rally IllegalDomestic | June 18, 2012, Monday // 09:52| views
Ralliers from Bansko and Dobrinishte on their way to the E-79 international road. Photo by BGNES
The protest rally in support of the controversial Forestry Act was illegal, says local Mayor, Apostol Apostolov.
Apostolov is the Mayor of the town of Simitli, the location where about 500 people from the winter resorts of Bansko and Razlog gathered Sunday in a rally backing the amendments to the Forestry Act, passed by the Parliament last Wednesday.
The protest, widely-believed to be staged by the "Nature for People and Regions" coalition funded by notorious businessman Tseko Minev, was staffed by several hundred citizens from the mountainous Blagoevgrad region.
Apostolov notes that the rally near his town was "regretfully" guarded by the police and the people who came were most likely paid to do so. He stood firmly on the side of the opponents of the legislation, saying it is lobbyist, and proposed by one Member of the Parliament from the ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, who is known for protecting the interests of shady oligarchs.
"I found it very interesting too why did these people come to Simitli to protest when they are from Bansko and Razlog. Why did they have to be bused here? Bansko is a famous resort. They could close the road between Bansko and Razlog. They probably came to become known thanks to Simitli, because no one would have seen them there, except some bear or deer," said the Mayor, speaking for the Focus news agency.
He firmly denied reports that his town was also protesting, saying there were just 2 locals, holding a sign with the same claim.
"Simitli did not protest. Simitli would never protest in support of lobbyist laws. When people block roads for righteous causes, the police beat them. Here they let them do whatever they please," Apostolov concluded.
The protest lasted about 40 minutes, while the E-79 road to Greece was blocked for about 20.
Sunday's "protest" by citizens of Bansko, Razlog and Dobrinishte was instigated by Bulgaria's Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Naydenov, who said municipalities have to root for the new law, which was allegedly framed to benefit remote areas.
On Saturday, President Rosen Plevneliev vetoed the legislation in full.
Thousands of Bulgarian nature lovers and other citizens opposing the Forestry Act have been staging protest rallies in the area of the key intersection of Orlov Most (Eagles Bridge) in Sofia ever since Wednesday evening.
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