Protesting Bulgarians Blockade Downtown Sofia

Society | March 3, 2013, Sunday // 13:57|  views

Sofia residents have staged once again a huge protest rally, bringing downtown traffic to a standstill. Photo by BGNES

Thousands of people have blocked traffic on the key Eagles' Bridge intersection in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in another huge protest rally against monopolies, poverty and the political model of ruling the country.

The entire downtown area is blocked as well.

Demonstrators have gathered together in front of the building of the Parliament, coming from three locations – Eagles' Bridge, the Ministry of Economy and Energy, and the National Palace of Culture.

One of them shouted Bulgarians will occupy the square before the Parliament Wednesday and will remain until the MPs adopt Election Code amendment that will pave the way for the participation of common citizens in politics.

The procession also laid flowers at the monument of national hero, Vasil Levski, in paying homage to his sacrifice in fighting for the country's freedom. The rally coincides with Liberation Day when Bulgaria marks its independence from 500-years of Ottoman Empire rule.

The rally is accompanied by music played from loudspeakers. People are shouting "We Want Change," "Mafia," "Resignation," "Impeachment" and "Bulgaria" among others.

There is an increased riot police presence, but there are no reported clashes, aggression, vandalism and other incidents. Armored military machines are seen on some downtown streets. Many are holding flowers, national colors, portraits of Levski and other Bulgarian national heroes, and posters against politicians.

Participants are taking turns speaking against monopolies, oligarchs, high utility bills, low wages and retirement pensions while others are calling for political change and for not dissolving the Parliament until it adopts the Election Code.

They also threatened to erect a tent camp near the building of the Administration of the President until their demands are met.

They include eliminating monopolies, a majority ballot, 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.

These demands, on their part, have stirred fears of an attempt to return to Communism as there have been calls for nationalization and full abolishment of the political system and of all parties.

Hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians are protesting across Bulgaria and in many cities around the globe.

In Bulgaria, many processions pass by monuments connected to historical events to lay flowers.

On February 21, Bulgaria's Parliament approved the resignation of the government of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and his ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, amidst the unprecedented since 1997 protest rallies.

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Tags: Vasil Levski, Liberation Day, Ottoman Empire rule, Bulgarians, abroad, BEH, power utilities, resignation, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, utility bills, prices, protests, GERB, protests, rallies, Great General Assembly, constitution, Eagles' Bridge, police, violence, VMRO, sofia, organizers, demands, demonstrators, rallies, protest, protests


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