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Bulgaria: Clashes Between Roma and Ethnic Bulgarians in Katunitsa

Violent clashes in the Bulgarian village of Katunitsa, near Plovdiv, broke out Friday night, following the death of a 19-year-old ethnic Bulgarian local, Angel Petrov, who had been run over by a vehicle driven by a man linked to the local Roma clan leader.

According to Focus Information Agency:

127 people were arrested in the southern village of Katunitsa where Bulgarian and Roma communities entered into clashes, following a fatal road accident involving relatives of a Roma boss – Kiril Rashkov, dubbed Tsar Kiro. The arrested were indicted for vandalism, arson and numerous other offences.

The clashes involving some 2,000 people started when relatives of a teenager who was run over by a Rashkov family vehicle attacked the Roma patriarch's home. Another person died and five others were injured.

Three policemen and two civilians were hurt in the riots, while a 16-year-old at the scene who suffered from heart problems was taken to hospital, where he later died. […]

Online responses to the riots reflect very well the dangerous tensions on the ground.

On Facebook, there is a page [bg] demanding death to the Roma boss Kiril Rashkov (“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.)” – and more than 23,000 people appear to “like” this cause.

One of the page members wrote:

We are Bulgarians, we are in Bulgaria – enough of this torment! In our own country we feel as foreigners! They want war? We will give them war!

Another Facebook page [bg] has been created in support of the ethnic Bulgarian rioters arrested in Katunitsa – as of now, 41,001 people have “liked” this page.

Riot police in the village of Katunitsa. Photo by Georgi Kozhuharov/Dnevnik.bg, used with permission.

Hot debates are taking place elsewhere on Facebook as well. On the Anti-Racism Movement in Bulgaria page, people have reported more than ten pages and groups with hate-speech content. One member of the Anti-Racism Movement wrote [bg]:

Racism is awful because of the association of ethnicity with crime. There is a proverb saying “Because of our Elijah, I started to hate Saint Elijah” [“Pokrai nash Iliq namrazih i Sveti Iliq.”] Rashkov (Tzar Kiro) is one of the many criminals and traffickers in Bulgaria and he uses the ethnicity trump card without a second thought. If the authorities take care of this kind of criminals by legal means then this will reduce many times the ethnicity tensions, which are created by the same criminals to affirm their control over the given minority.

One of the places where people are organizing protests against the Roma people is the Facebook fan page [bg] of the football team “Botev” (Plovdiv). One of the fan group's members wrote this [bg]:

The dirty Roma scum must be cleaned!

On the Bulgarian blog Bai Dalai [bg], the author wrote another opinion:

It is easy to see that this is an uprising against the painful social injustices, against the fact that the authorities are protecting the rich criminals but they are unable to provide basic security for the common people.

On Twitter, @lazarov (Alexei Lazarov) wrote [bg]:

Racial clashes in Katunitsa, Putin will run for president again – time sometimes seems to be moving backwards.

3 comments

  • Sadly, this article is highly misleading.

    Following the news on TV, one can see no footage or any information about “Bulgarian and Roma communities entering into clashes”.

    Aside from the killing that initiated the whole event, the 2 police officers injured by the escaping killer, and a young girl with a serious heart condition who passed away grief stricken over the killing, THERE ARE NO INJURED PEOPLE, no fights, no “clashes” at all.

    The only property (houses and cars) that the angry mob destroyed, belongs to a local self proclaimed “Roma baron”, who is reported to have repeatedly harass the local Roma and Bulgarian population, and who is believed to have ordered the killing.

  • Steve

    I must second the first comment. While there are some racist voices and minor incidents, the anger has been directed towards Rashkov and his sons and cousins who directly or indirectly are to blame for the murder and the politicians who protect the family in exchange for Roma votes.
    I can add to the article that the Roma court (meshere) sentenced Kiril Raskov to death by hanging.

  • […] articole pe aceeaşi temă Bulgaria: Clashes Between Roma and Ethnic Bulgarians in Katunitsa, în Global Voice,  Mass arrests follow Bulgaria violence, în Aljazeera net, Police Arrest 127 […]

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