Bulgaria’s protests: Rival rallies set for November 16

Rival political rallies are planned for Bulgaria on November 16, one in Plovdiv by opposition centre-right GERB and the other a pro-government gathering by the Bulgarian Socialist Party in Sofia.

GERB leader Boiko Borissov was the first to announce the party’s anti-government protest, indicating that Plovdiv had been chosen so as not to cramp the style of the DANSWithme and student anti-government protests in the capital. He also noted that the GERB rally was a response to those who alleged that his party was the puppetmaster of the anti-government protests, saying that Saturday would see what happened when GERB really did organise  a protest.

From the quarter of the anti-government student protesters, some sent a message to Borissov that he should not presume to seek to seize the leadership of the protests.

Local media posted an internal letter from the BSP in Sofia to its branches, saying that the plan was to raise at least 5000 people to participate in its march in support of the government. The letter spelt out how many people each individual branch in the capital city should provide for the Saturday morning march.

Some time after the anti-government public protests began on June 14, counter-protests began with the support of the BSP, with gatherings on weekdays outside the Presidency. These gatherings have tended to be somewhat modest in turnout, and even at their largest tend to be smaller than the smallest turnouts for the anti-government protests.

Opponents of the BSP also made much of an e-mail sent to MPs and reportedly also to Plamen Oresharski, appointed in May to sit in the prime minister’s chair in the BSP government, giving guidelines on talking points to seek to discredit the anti-government protests.

While social networks and student protesters continued to express indignation about the conduct of police on November 12, a day of clashes between police and protesters that saw injuries and arrests as police sought to clear away people trying to block the path of members of Parliament, Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov told reporters on November 14 that he had seen no evidence of police brutality.

Anti-government protesters continued their campaign at turning up at the infrequent public appearances in Sofia of Oresharski, being pushed back by police outside a Sofia hotel when a small crowd gathering to shout demands at him to resign. Some local media noted, with a degree of irony, that Oresharski’s appearance had the rare element of him arriving and leaving using the front door.

Meanwhile, anti-government protesting students said that their “Occupy” protest, which began just more than three weeks ago at Sofia University and which has the support of groups of students at more than 15 universities, would continue until the current government resigned.

(Archive photo from a June 2013 protest: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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