Sergei Stanishev, leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, says that the measures announced by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov on February 18 are proof that Borissov is ready to do anything to cling on to power.
Stanishev was speaking after a meeting of the socialists’ executive bureau and a few hours after Borissov announced a plan to reduce electricity prices from March 1 and withdraw the licence of power distribution company CEZ. Borissov announced the measures at a news conference in response to days of national uproar about electricity bills and protests that have drawn thousands of people to the streets of several Bulgarian cities to demand the expulsion of foreign-owned electricity distribution companies and re-nationalisation of these firms.
The protests, that began as devoted to the theme of electricity, turned into anti-government protests and several opposition parties have involved themselves in the campaign, repeatedly calling for the government to step down to make way for ahead-of-term elections.
Stanishev said that the common denominator in the protests was that they were “against the plunder of this country under this administration”.
The protests were absolutely justified and the government should resign because it had no moral or political credibility, Stanishev said. He said that on February 20, the socialist party would start consultations with parties in Parliament and with parties outside Parliament, civil society and trade unions “to find a solution”.
He described the situation currently as “extremely explosive”.
At the same time, it emerged that in spite of Borissov’s announcements, protests would continue in several cities and towns, including Plovdiv and Blagoevgrad while a protest in Veliko Turnovo that had been scheduled for February 19 went ahead regardless of Borissov’s statements.
February 19 also saw a statement of support for the protests from the acting head of the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Kiril said that the protests were “fully justified” and were supported by the church.
In spite of allegations that senior clergy lived opulent lifestyles, they too suffered because of high electricity bills and therefore backed the protests, said Kiril, at the same time calling on people not to commit acts of vandalism during the protests.
(Photo of Sergei Stanishev: Ivan Stoimenov/bsp.bg)