Protest Rallies Sweep Bulgaria

Society | February 24, 2013, Sunday // 13:29|  views

Huge crowds of Bulgarians took on streets across the country Sunday, protesting against the mafia model of ruling the country and wide-spread poverty. Photo by BGNES

An unprecedented wave of protest rallies against the political model, unbearable utility bills and poverty under the motto "Let's Set the Monopolies on Fire" has swept Bulgaria Sunday.

No exact data is available about the number of demonstrators, but TV cameras all over the country are showing impressive footages of huge crowds taking on the streets in the capital Sofia and in a number of other cities, blocking main thoroughfares.

In Sofia, between 10 000 and 20 000 are marching back and forth between key official buildings. They returned to the Parliament, after passing by it initially in going from the Eagles' Bridge intersection to the Presidential office. The rally is now reported going in the direction in the main courthouse in Sofia.

In front of the Presidential building, one of the leaders of the demonstrators, Yanko Petrov, declared they would not negotiate with the President, snubbing the invitation to do so, issued personally by him earlier. Petrov reiterated the protest was against all political parties in the country.

A man was seen carrying a mop in a symbolic attempt to sweep the "political garbage" from the last 23 years in Bulgaria.

Demonstrators are booing outgoing Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, who resigned last week amidst the huge rallies; they are shouting "coward," "mafia," "we are hungry," "we also want EU financing," and others.

"Where is Boyko? Playing football as he always does on Sundays? His country is on fire, but firefighter (which is Borisov's profession) number one is nowhere to be seen...," Petrov told the crowd.

People are also calling on Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, to launch proceedings against all those guilty of plundering the country since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.

Many of them are walking wrapped in national colors and waiving the national flag. Posters show a number of messages against politicians, all political parties, power utilities, and energy mafia among others.

The rally is also supported by eco activists who are located mainly on the key Eagles' Bridge intersection.

Children are seen playing ball on the city's main boulevard Tsarigradsko Shosse, near the intersection, which is completely closed for traffic, while their parents are protesting.

Meanwhile, thousands have arrived at the other gathering location – in front of the Ministry of Economy and Energy.

They are also shouting "mafia," "we do not want mobsters ruling the country," "Borisov in jail," "Borisov's agents – out of the rally," "ban State subsidies for political parties," and much more.

There are many posters against cartels, and collages of politicians in handcuffs.

An open letter to the President, local and foreign media, is being distributed among the crowd against political parties leading policies detrimental to Bulgarian people, and robbing them by huge utility bills.

The college students' organizations are also rallying, along with a separate protest of the far-right, nationalist VMRO party, and a rally against banks' abuse on customers, but all have currently intertwined together.

People from Sofia and the western city of Pernik have blocked the Lyulin highway on both ends.

Huge rallies are reported in the second largest city of Plovdiv, where demonstrators have burned the Constitution, in the central city of Sliven, in the southwestern city of Blagoevgrad, the Black Sea city of Burgas, and a number of other locations.

The rally is, however, once again the largest in the Black Sea capital Varna, where 40 000 have inundated main boulevards all the way to the city's Hemus highway exit, which is now been blocked by them. TV footage showed demonstrators burning a symbolic dummy of the police, under the careful watch of riot policemen.

Despite the huge crowds and earlier fears, there are no reports about provocations, clashes and other serious incidents.

There are strong disagreements among different groups of disgruntled people, but some of the demands that have emerged so far are: not adjourning the Parliament; the President appointing a program government instead of a caretaker one; drafting a Civil Participation Bill providing a 50% civil quota in all institutions; returning 51% of the shares of power utilities to the State; closing the Bulgarian Energy Holding, BEH, for draining the energy sector, summoning a Grand General Assembly, establishing a procedure to recall Members of the Parliament.

Bulgarians abroad are also staging protest rallies. They will be held in Vienna, Munich, Dublin, London, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Athens, Berlin, and Madrid.

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Tags: protests, protest, rallies, demonstrators, utility bills, demands, constitution, political parties, NGO, Free Choice Association, organizers, sofia, Sliven, VMRO, violence, police, Eagles' Bridge, constitution, Great General Assembly, rallies, protests, GERB, protests, prices, utility bills, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, resignation, power utilities, BEH, sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas, Sliven, Varna, Blagoevgrad


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