An attempted blockade of Plamen Oresharski’s car outside an art gallery and the arrest of six people after a scuffle with police outside the Cabinet office were some of the incidents in an evening of drama after the outcome of a Constitutional Court process was that Delyan Peevski remains a member of Parliament.
On October 8, as word spread that Peevski, whose appointment to head the State Agency for National Security in June was the catalyst for massive anti-government protests, would hold on to his seat in the National Assembly, calls went out on anti-government networks for a show of public outrage.
In recent weeks, turnout at anti-government protests has been on the slide, even though a recent poll showed that 76 per cent of Bulgarians wanted the current government to step down and make way for fresh parliamentary elections.
With Peevski being the bete-noire of the anti-government protesters, his prominent return to the news of the day revitalised turnout.
Online, anti-government protesters shared that Plamen Oresharski, occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, was at Sofia City Art Gallery for the official opening of an exhibition of work by Jules Pascin.
(In a piquant irony, Oresharski was in the company of the new French ambassador, whose predecessor did not receive Bulgaria’s highest civilian honour on his departure in what was widely seen as revenge for the public position that he shared with the German ambassador on the anti-government protests.)
A phalanx of a few hundred protesters attempted to blockade Oresharski and his convoy from quitting the scene, with National Security Service staff and police having to force their way through, including by avoiding overturned refuse bins.
Oresharski, who tried to put on a game face as he was escorted away from the art gallery, was greeted with shouts of “resign!” and “rubbish!”.
Soon after, at the Cabinet office, rumour spread that Oresharski was inside, possibly in the company of BSP leader Sergei Stanishev.
An attempt by some within the group of protesters to force their way to the service entrance of the building led to scuffles. According to a subsequent statement by the Interior Ministry, six people were arrested.
Opposition party GERB, which had filed the motion in the Constitutional Court for Peevski to be declared no longer an MP, reacted to the outcome of the court process by saying that an institution meant to defend statehood instead had become a proponent of the ruling majority made up of the BSP, Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalists Ataka.
In a lengthy statement of his own, Peevski said that he was resuming his seat in the National Assembly in the names of the tens of thousands of people who had elected his as an MP for two terms.