Nationalist Chief Shockingly Honors Bulgarian Hero on HorseDomestic | June 3, 2013, Monday // 10:59| views
Bulgarian nationalist leader, Volen Siderov, appeared on horse during the annual climb of a mountain peak in honor of hero Hristo Botev who perished there in fighting for the country's independence from Ottoman rule. Photo by BGNES
Volen Siderov, Bulgaria's nationalist leader, has stayed true to his eccentric nature on the day when the nation marked the 137th anniversary of the death of one of its most prominent countrymen - publicist, poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev.
Every year on June 2, Bulgarian statesmen and ordinary people climb on foot to the Okolchitsa mountain peak, near the northwestern city of Vratsa to honor Botev at the site of his troupe's last fight with the Ottoman Turkish army, when he gave his life for his homeland's independence.
While 2 000 people walked the rough terrain on foot Sunday, Siderov, leader of the far-right nationalist Ataka party, stunned everyone by appearing on a dark horse, surrounded by a large group of supporters and bodyguards.
The ceremony was opened by the new Speaker of the Parliament from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and former Interior Minister, Mihail Mikov.
During the ceremony, the nationalists hissed the laying of wreaths on behalf of the formerly-ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, at Botev's monument on Okolchitsa.
Four parties overcame the 4% threshold to win seats in the May 12 general elections: GERB, BSP, the liberal ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, and their self-proclaimed arch enemies – Ataka (Attack).
GERB narrowly won the election, but was unable to form a government, because Ataka, BSP and DPS all declared that they would not negotiate with or support the former rulers.
According to the final count, DPS and BSP together have 120 seats in the 240-seat unicameral Parliament, making Ataka and Siderov, with 23 MPs, kingmakers in the 42nd General Assembly as GERB has 97 MPs.
Speaking for the Bulgarian National Television, BNT, after the Okolchitsa ceremony, the nationalist leader stated he had received lots of praise about what he was doing in plenary hall, thus refuting opinions he had already angered his supporters by silently backing the ethnic Turks.
A solemn military roll-call and fireworks were held Sunday evening in Vratsa in Botev's honor.
"They say the homeland can perish only when it disappears from the hearts of its people. Nearly for a century and a half now, Botev's fiery words and his legendary revolutionary path remind Bulgarians what duty and homeland mean. Every year many walk in Botev's troupe steps in order to rediscover themselves and Bulgaria. The pure and tragic images of Botev's troupe members, of these martyrs, are one of the brightest ideals of generations of Bulgarians. They walked their dangerous route to their heroic death led by their wish to help Bulgaria and their enslaved brothers," President, Rosen Plevneliev, said at the opening of the ceremony.
The torrential rain in Vratsa during the ceremony, however, led to a gaffe in the organization as the moisture caused the fireworks to go off earlier than scheduled, precisely during the minute of silence in honor of Botev and his troupe.
The company in charge of the fireworks has issued an apology to the Vratsa City Hall for the blunder.