Bulgarian Government Quits, But Protests Continue

On Sunday, February 24, 2013 tens of thousands of Bulgarians protested against corruption, high utility bills and poverty. The coastal city of Varna was declared the Protest Capital: over 40,000 people turned up for the Sunday's rally there. Some 15,000 people protested in Plovdiv. While it is difficult to determine the exact number of the February 24 protesters, activist sources say there were more than 200,000 of them nationwide.

In Sofia, the slogans included: “Let's Set the Monopolies on Fire!”; “Balkans, wake up! For a real democracy!”; “End to illusions, civil action every day!”; “We, Bulgarians, Turks, Roma, Armenians – we are all #Bulgaria-n citizens! We must stand up against political manipulation!”

The Feb. 24 protest in Sofia. Photo by Ruslan Trad.

The Feb. 24 protest in Sofia. Photo by Ruslan Trad.

Here's a video from the protest in Sofia, filmed by the author of this post:

The protest in Sofia coincided with the enthronement ceremony for Neofit, the newly-elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; the city was paralyzed, no public transport, except for the metro, was running. Minutes after he was officially enthroned, Patriarch Neofit vowed to pray for peace and unity of the Bulgarian people. This gesture of support for the protesters was well-received by them, while President Rosen Pleveliev, who addressed the crowd in Sofia, was booed.

The protesters called political parties not to manipulate or get involved in the protests. At the rally in Veliko Tarnovo, they even chased some political representatives away [bg; video]. Stanislava Stefanova wrote [bg]:

Don't they understand that there is no place for them at the protest of the people???? Isn't it clear enough that we don't want them???

Following the surprise resignation of Boyko Borisov‘s government on February 20, which came after an earlier protest turned violent, activists of the protest movement held a meeting in the city of Sliven and agreed on a list of demands: not to adjourn the Parliament; the President should appoint experts to the new government, instead of making it a caretaker one; to draft a Civil Participation Bill providing a 50% civil quota in all institutions; to return 51% of the energy sector shares to the State; to close the Bulgarian Energy Holding, BEH, for draining the energy sector; to summon the Grand National Assembly, establishing a procedure to recall MPs.

Lada Dimitrova wrote [bg] in a comment at the February 24 protest photo gallery on the “Saprotiva” (“Resistance”) page:

I'm not concerned with who will be the leader, it is important for me to live in dignity!


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