The political fate of Kiril Yordanov, mayor of Bulgaria’s largest Black Sea city Varna, hangs in the balance as all major parties – including the one that nominated him for re-election in the most recent elections – called on him to resign as protests against high bills and corruption continued to draw turnouts of thousands in the city.
On March 3, Yordanov appeared to be standing firm against calls for him to step down, even after Boiko Borissov’s party GERB said that it had been a “mistake” to nominate him in 2011 mayoral elections and withdrew its support.
The drama is directly linked to the nationwide protests that have seized Bulgaria for more than three weeks and that, after a violent incident in Sofia, prompted Borissov to announce the resignation of his government, precipitating a political crisis.
On March 4, the chairman of the Varna municipal council, Nikolai Apostolov, was scheduled to hold a meeting with all political parties represented on the council to discuss Yordanov’s future.
The protests in Varna have seen repeated calls for Yordanov to resign. In the most dramatic incident, a 36-year-old man, Plamen Goranov, set himself on fire in front of the Varna municipal headquarters, demanding that Yordanov quit. On March 4, hospital staff said that Goranov had died.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party, with which Yordanov was associated – although his official CV on the municipal website underlines that he has never been a member of any political party – before GERB backed him, has called for fresh municipal elections in Varna.
In a separate political drama in the Black Sea city, Order Law and Justice party leader Yane Yanev, who has a handful of seats in the national Parliament, said on March 3 that he was breaking off his party’s short-lived association with prominent Varna business person Veselin Mareshki, owner of a pharmaceutical business.
Mareshki attempted on March 3 to join protests in Varna but was driven away by protesters who shouted abuse on him and, according to local media reports, spat at him.
As to Yordanov, on March 3 GERB member of Parliament Dimitar Atanassov said that in 2011, GERB had no candidate ready for mayoral elections and had chosen Yordanov as the “lesser evil”. GERB expressed support for the protests by Varna residents and said that the dignified thing to do would be for Yordanov to resign.
Local media said that Yordanov was to request a special session of the city council at which to declare whether he would resign. A statement from his office said that if a special meeting was not scheduled – “which would be another form of escape from responsibility at a difficult time for the city” – Yordanov would make a statement on March 6.
The statement added that if anyone was afraid of such a meeting, it was because they knew that at any such meeting, “terrible truths about our city would emerge”, truths that, according to the statement “would become famous and their weight fall on them”.
Yordanov (57) was born in Varna and graduated in law from Sofia University, serving as a judge in Varna Regional Court before being regional governor of Varna from 1991 to 1997, when he became an MP. He was elected mayor of Varna in 1999, and was re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011.