Protests in Sofia for and against Siderov

Volen Siderov was the subject of two protests organised in Sofia on January 8, one to demand the withdrawal of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution, the other to “protect him against further provocations”.

The rival protests – the one against Siderov organised for 1pm outside the Palace of Justice, the other an hour later in the same place – resulted from a January 6 incident in which the Ataka leader was involved in a rowdy dispute with a French diplomat aboard a flight from Sofia to Varna, and a subsequent scuffle at Varna airport in which two men, one a police officer, were slightly injured.

Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov ordered pre-trial proceedings in connection with the incident.

Varna regional prosecutors said that they had sufficient evidence that Siderov committed a crime and have passed on all documentation to the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, which is in charge of deciding whether he will face charges and, if so, will submit a request to the Prosecutor-General to ask Parliament to remove Siderov’s immunity.

Organisers of the anti-Siderov protest said on Facebook that it was not Siderov that needed immunity, but Bulgaria that needed immunity against the arbitrariness and violence demonstrated yet again by a member of the Bulgarian Parliament against a citizen of Bulgaria.

“It is absolutely unacceptable and arrogant for a leader of a party represented in Parliament to incite fear and exercise physical violence and to use his immunity as an MP as a cover to conceal hooliganism and fascist actions.”

Siderov, addressing a gathering in Varna on January 7 to demand that places in the Black Sea city with Turkish names be given Bulgarian ones, alleged that the January 6 incident was the result of a conspiracy against him and his party by the regional governor Ivan Velikov, whose resignation Ataka is demanding.

The pro-Siderov demonstration for 2pm organised on Facebook is entitled, “Protect Volen Siderov from another provocation”.

Meanwhile, video material has been circulating on the internet allegedly depicting Ataka member of Parliament Desislav Chukulov threatening a police officer who asked to see his identity document when Ataka representatives went to a January 7 meeting with Varna police chief Chavdar Nankov.

Political reaction to the incident involving Siderov and the Ataka Mps on January 6 has included opposition party GERB demanding that Siderov resign as chairperson of the parliamentary committee against corruption, and socialist Speaker of Parliament Mihail Mikov saying that in Bulgaria, all are equal before the law.

The political background to Ataka’s role in Parliament since May 2013 has been that its vote put and kept ruling axis partners the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms in power.

But the BSP-MRF necessity to depend on Siderov and Ataka lessened when two GERB members of Parliament quit the parliamentary group.

BSP MP Maya Manolova, who also is one of the National Assembly’s deputy presiding officers, told local media that she did not accept the “arrogant behaviour” of Siderov but at the same time said that there was no hurry to resolve the issue of his immunity from prosecution.

“There are rules that every Bulgarian citizen has to respect. Hardly anyone doubts that Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov will treat the case of Volen Siderov seriously, he (Tsatsarov) already has requested the lifting of the immunity of several members of Parliament from different parties. There are two versions about what happened, let’s see what happened and let the prosecutors do their job,” Manolova said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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