Bulgaria’s Parliament was the focus of a turnout of several thousand anti-government protesters on September 4 2013 as the National Assembly resumed after the summer recess, while there was also a strong turnout of pro-government demonstrators – both groups augmented by busloads of people brought in from cities and towns elsewhere in the country.
The augmentations appeared to be the work of rival political parties.
While the anti-government protests, going on for 83 consecutive days, have been demanding the resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government and endorsing no political party, the September 4 protest saw former ruling party, centre-right GERB, associate itself with the protests.
Former prime minister and GERB leader Boiko Borissov greeted anti-government protesters, to a mixed reception of cheers and boos.
The anti-government protest was organised under the #DANSwithme theme as an ironically-named “great welcome” for the returning MPs.
A group of anti-government protesters blocked Eagle Bridge (Orlov Most) at around 9.30am.
Parliament’s session opened with a quorum soon after 9am, with all four parties – GERB, the BSP, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Ataka represented.
The National Assembly building was cordoned off by police and with metal barriers, with the area around it closed to traffic. Riot police guarded the rear entrance of Parliament, which MPs used to enter the building. Gendarmerie vans were parked to prevent protesters being able to see the MPs – and the MPs being able to see the protesters.
The “counter-protesters” supporting the government, numbering several hundred, gathered near the Holy Synod headquarters close to Alexander Nevsky cathedral, where they were greeted by BSP MP Boris Tsvetkov.
Local media reports said that the first groups of anti-government protesters began gathering outside Parliament from dawn.
According to a report by local news agency Focus, at about 10.30am a group from the anti-government protesters attempted to remove part of the barriers around Parliament but were prevented by police from doing so. Daily Sega said that the group were agents provocateur.
(Photo: Vassil Garnizov)