The central campus of Sofia University has seen attempts at provocation as “counter protesters” attempted on October 27 to invade the area occupied by a group of students who are demanding the resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government and early parliamentary elections.
The occupation by the group of students, said to number about 100, grew out of a protest on October 23 against a lecture by Constitutional Court head Dimitar Tokushev.
His lecture was disrupted in protest against the court’s role in Delyan Peevski, the catalyst for more than four months of anti-government protests, being confirmed as a member of Parliament in spite of Peevski’s short-lived appointment as head of the State Agency for National Security.
On the night of October 26, there was a reported attempt by a counter-protester to scale the fence to the university.
At about 11am on October 27, outsiders came to the yard of the university.
Those who arrived were said to include BSP MPs, ultra-nationalists and people involved in the counter-protests to the anti-government protests. Witnesses said that those who had come to the campus included football supporters, allegedly looking for a fight.
The situation did not come to a physical clash but there were exchanges of verbal abuse, reporters at the scene said.
At noon, access to the campus was sealed off although there were still people inside who were opposed to the occupation, reports said.
As the situation developed, students involved in the Occupy protest issued an appeal on Facebook for people to come to the campus to back them up.
According to Bulgarian National Television, the two rival groups argued – the counter-protesters saying that the right to education was being violated, the protesting students saying that they had a right to be heard.
The main base of support for the “Occupy” protest is among the history, philosophy and law departments, BNT said. Lecturers from these departments are supporting the students who occupied the university building.
Supporters also had arrived at the university, some bringing food and water for the students, reports said.
Classes at Sofia University have been cancelled on October 28, when university management is to meet to consider its response.
Faced with the demand for the resignation of the government, Plamen Oresharski, appointed as prime minister in the BSP government in May, said that he was “ready for a dialogue” with the students.
“I understand their demands are also against the Constitutional Court and Parliament. They have a right to protest, but we should also pick correctly the type of the protest so that we are not a hurdle for the others,” he said.
Boiko Borissov, leader of centre-right opposition party GERB, said that even if protesters occupied the moon, it would mean nothing to the Oresharski government.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)