Downtown Sofia under Siege by Protesting Bulgarians

Domestic | November 1, 2013, Friday // 12:20|  views

Large processions and rallies have brought traffic in downtown Sofia to a standstill once again Friday morning. Photo Facebook

About 1 000 Bulgarians have responded so far to the call of university lecturers to come at 11 am Friday at Sofia University to join their anti-government protest.

At 11:20 am many teachers were seen on the steps of the schools main entrance, stretching a large banner saying "University Teachers Say Wake Up!" They were later joined by students who have occupied the university building.

On Friday, November 1, the country marks National Enlighteners Day.

The protesters were also joined by students from the University of National and World Economy, the Medical School, and from other colleges participating in the blockades.

The participants in the rally have already issued a call for nationwide strikes.

The procession will pass by the National Library, the monument of Bulgarian National Hero, Vasil Levski, and finish in front of the Parliament.

Because the event, a large part of downtown Sofia is closed for traffic, including main thoroughfares such as "Rakovski" street and "Tsar Osvoditel" and "Vasil Levski" boulevards.

Earlier in the morning, students from Bulgaria's National Academy for Theater and Film Arts, NATFA, in Sofia blocked traffic briefly for a third day in a row. The students staged a flash mob in front of the NATFA building on Rakovski Str. They say this was their greeting for National Enlighteners Day.

Security measures have been tightened in the heart of the city, which has been witnessing nearly daily blockades of key intersections, staged by disgruntled Bulgarians since mid-June.

Supporters of Bulgaria's Socialist-led government are also staging a rally and there is large riot police presence in downtown Sofia, in an effort to keep the two groups separate.

Students have staged partial or full blockades at a number of universities in Sofia and across the country, demanding the resignation of the socialist-led government and the dissolution of Parliament.

The initiative was launched by the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", which has had its central building blocked since last Friday. No classes are taking place at the central building on Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd and the governing body of the University is in talks with the protesting students to persuade them to lift the blockade.

The protests were triggered by the Constitutional Court's controversial decision to confirm the status of notorious media mogul Delyan Peevski as Member of Parliament earlier in October.

On June 14, Peevski was elected and swore in as chair of Bulgaria's State Agency for National Security, a move that prompted massive anti-corruption protests in EU's poorest member state.

The appointment was canceled, but protesters proceeded to demand the government's resignation over its suspected ties with oligarchs. The demonstrations were later fueled by a number of other controversial appointments and by wider concerns about corruption.

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Tags: protests, blockade, occupation, lecture hall, Sofia University, protesters, Plamen Oresharski, Constitutional Court, Delyan Peevski, corruption, students, occupation, occupied, blockades, Socialist-led government, protests, teachers, Bulgaria, science, culture, education, National Enlighteners Day, march, students


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