Occupy NDK Rally Starts, Bulgaria Protests for Day 8Domestic | June 22, 2013, Saturday // 11:06| views
Bulgarian citizens are staging mass protest rallies for the 8th day in a row. Photo by BGNES
Thousands of Bulgarians have signed the "Occupy NDK" Facebook page for a rally to parallel the sitting of the Party of European Socialists, PES.
The entire PES leadership is in Sofia Saturday, at a time their Bulgarian leader, Sergey Stanishev, is facing growing discontent from his own country people and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, which he leads as well.
The PES sitting is held at the National Palace of Culture, NDK, in downtown Sofia. It started at 10 am and is expected to close at 10 pm.
Bulgarian citizens are staging mass protest rallies for the 8th day in a row. They were sparked by the outrageous decision of the government and the Parliament to appoint controversial media mogul and lawmaker Delyan Peevski as Chair of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) with Stanishev seen as one of the masterminds behind the plan.
The demonstrators demand the resignation of the government of Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, elected on the mandate of the Socialist Party.
The Bulgarian National Television, BNT, aired a report from the park outside NDK, showing that around 10:30 am Saturday scores of protesters have already gathered there.
A protest rally against lifting the full smoking ban is also held in the vicinity.
The facility is guarded by metal fences and a large number of riot police.
Meanwhile, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, dispelled media reports that the City Hall has banned the NDK rally.
"We do not have a request for permit for "Occupy NDK," and we have not banned it either. We don't see the PES meeting as something different than any other event held there. We did not have any permit requests for the spontaneous rallies that are taking place in Sofia for over a week now and we do not find any grounds to ban them as long as they are peaceful," says she, adding permits must be requested 24 hours ahead of the respective event.
Friday evening, however, police prevented the procession of the demonstrators from following its usual route and passing close to NDK.
The National Security Services, NSO, are in charge of security inside the building, while the outside perimeter is under the authority of the Sofia Police Directorate and of Municipal Police. They say they will intervene only on signals for public order disturbances.
"This is a spontaneous protest and we cannot tell these thousands of people to not come here, however, we are fully prepared to react," the Sofia police chief is quoted in saying.
The protest rally Friday evening was once again peaceful without any reported incidents, injuries and arrests.
A few objects were thrown at the headquarters of the main political parties in Bulgaria, but there was no serious damage.
As many people were joining or leaving the rally at different times, the police say they cannot commit to even an estimate of the number of participants.
Since Friday evening, policemen in the front line of mass protests are wearing reflective vests with the words "Anti-conflict Police" stamped on them.
The move is aimed at passing a clear message to the public – police wants tolerance, control and dialogue with citizens, the press office of the interior ministry informs.
The next step would be to establish police teams with reflective jackets displaying the words "Police – Dialogue Team." They will have the task of talking to different groups of demonstrators and organizers and reasoning with them.
Demonstrators have lauded the actions of the police which have protected them, rather than resort to excessive or any force.
Friday evening, as usual, participants in the rally smiled and chanted "Mafia," "Resignation," and "Red Trash," and their slogans remained creative – "The Police Are with Us; We are Negotiating with the Army," "The Problem Are Not the People, but the System," "Fight the Mafia with Smiles," and "Sir Alex Ferguson for PM; He is the Only One to Successfully Deal with Red Devils," among many.
Protests also took place in the cities of Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Blagoevgrad and Sliven.
The Saturday rally is expected to be the largest so far.
It was announced meanwhile that the Gay Pride Parade, also scheduled for Saturday, is definitely cancelled. It remains unknown what will happen with the planned counter protest as they have a permit from the City Hall.
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