Bulgarian Policewoman: Clashes Were Stirred by 'Decoys'

Society | July 25, 2013, Thursday // 12:49|  views

Ani Vitanova, a police officer with the Sofia Police Directorate, has suffered a dislocated shoulder and a torn muscle during clashes with anti-government protesters Tuesday night. Photo by bTV

A Bulgarian policewoman is convinced that her and her colleagues were subject to provocations Tuesday evening when clashes with anti-government protesters erupted in the capital Sofia.

Ani Vitanova, a police officer with the Sofia Police Directorate, spoke before bTV Thursday morning, explaining she was on duty that night.

Vitanova has been seriously injured, but remained at the duty post and worked overtime. She has suffered a dislocated shoulder and a torn muscle.

"Law enforcement acted with extremely good intentions under the conditions of escalating tensions. We wanted to remove people from the route of the bus that was to take out those blocked inside the Parliament in a very peaceful manner. But we faced then serious aggression. There were many provocateurs among the peaceful civilians. Others expressed solidarity with us, raised their hands and squatted to show they did not want any aggression," she says.

Vitanova explained she was on the first row when the clashes occurred due to tensions between the riot police cordon, the demonstrators, and the provocateurs.

"We were instructed to not use physical force. I did not even have a baton. I felt severe pain after someone hit me. I did not hit anyone. We tried to protect people to the best we could. Later, five colleagues told me that some individuals from the crowd attempted to remove their handguns from the holsters and take them away. Can you imagine how scary this is?" the police officer stressed.

Late Tuesday evening, anti-government protesters sat on the pavement and erected barricades near the Parliament to prevent lawmakers and ministers discussing in 3 committees the budget update from leaving the building. Media reporters inside also ended up being under siege.

In the ensuing clashes, 18 people – demonstrators and 5 police officers were injured, but none seriously.

Thursday marks day 42 in Bulgaria of protests against the Socialists-endorsed Cabinet of Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski.

The morning protest will merge with the traditional afternoon rally starting 6.30 pm in front of the Council of Ministers building.

After the clashes Tuesday, the rally on day 41st (Wednesday) was once again peaceful.

The series of rallies was triggered by the appointment of notorious media mogul Delyan Peevski as Chair of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) back on June 14, but the protesters were not appeased by the subsequent cancellation of the decision and went on to demand the resignation of the Socialist-led cabinet over ties with oligarchs.

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