Hundreds Protest over Appointment to Bulgarian Parliament Committee

Society | December 3, 2014, Wednesday // 18:11|  views

Wednesday's demonstrators included well-known and beloved faces like renowned actor Yosif Surchadzhiev, who can be seen here raising his fist. Photo by BGNES

A crowd of a few hundred people mainly formed by actors, directors, musicians, writers and artists has staged a sit-in at a key square in downtown Sofia and then by the Parliament building.

They are protesting over what they describe as a controversial appointment of Slavi Binev, a former MEP and now a member of the nationalist coalition Patriotic Front (PF), as head of the Culture Committee with the National Assembly.

Binev has enjoyed over the years dubious reputation as a businessmen, with many alleging he is related to the infighting among organized gangs in the 1990s. Some years ago his decision to acquire the title of "archon", without the consent of Bulgaria's Orthodox Church, also raised eyebrows.

However, others defend Binev and praise him for his determination to retain the post despite pressure.

Earlier this week Binev vowed to have a responsible approach to Bulgarian culture, which in his view (a widely shared one) has been neglected for the past two decades.

But about 250 people, who started their demonstration at the Crystal Garden near the Central Military Club in Sofia, and ended in front of Parliament, insist his occupation during the first years of Bulgaria's transition to democracy (the 1990s) are a good enough reason for them to urge him to step down.

Aleksandar Morfov, a renowned theater director, even quit the National Theater on Thursday evening in protest, explaining he was thoroughly rejecting both Binev as Culture Committee head and Vezhdi Rashidov as Culture Minister.

Morfov however added he would return to the theater if Binev resigned.

Binev's appointment has left politicians divided, with the senior coalition partner GERB throwing the blame initially on the PF, which had raised his candidacy, and later on the junior partner Reformist Bloc (RB), which had demanded that the PF be involved in the government by at least supporting it.

Meglena Kuneva, one of the four Deputy Prime Ministers in the cabinet, has used her Facebook profile to call on Binev to willfully step down.

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Tags: Slavi Binev, Patriotic Front, Culture Committee, protest, Aleksandar Morfov, Yosif Surchadzhiev, GERB, RB


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