Bulgaria’s Oresharski spurns boycott of Sochi Olympics

Plamen Oresharski, occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi on February 7 2014, spurning calls to boycott the Games.

He told local media that the event was on his programme, adding, on the boycott question, that Bulgaria was not that influential a country.

The campaign to boycott the Sochi Olympics arose from a number of human rights issues, notably Vladimir Putin’s anti-“gay propaganda” laws.

United States president Barack Obama, German president Joachim Gauck, French president Francois Hollande and UK prime minister David Cameron, as well as European Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding, are among those not attending Sochi.

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolikonnikova, released from prison as part of an amnesty announced by the Kremlin in a move seen by critics as a public relations stunt ahead of Sochi, has made public calls for a boycott of the Games. There is also an active online campaign.

Figures from the entertainment world have been campaigning against Russia’s anti-gay laws. In September 2013, US singer Selena Gomez dropped plans for concerts in Russia after it appeared that she would not be able to secure a visa because of her stance in favour of gay rights. Cher turned down an approach to perform at the Sochi opening ceremony, reports said.

The BSP government came to power in Bulgaria after the May 2013 elections. The party, which ran second in the elections but was handed a mandate to govern when former ruling centre-right party GERB had no allies in Parliament with which to form a coalition, traditionally has warm relations with the Kremlin, dating from the time of its lineal predecessor, the Bulgarian Communist Party.

However, the position being taken by head of state Rossen Plevneliev, elected at the end of 2011 on a GERB ticket, has not been confirmed. Bulgarian media reports have said that Plevneliev is expected to attend the closing ceremony in Sochi on February 23, but as yet there has been no formal statement from the President’s office on the matter.

(Photo of Oresharski: government.bg)

Related stories:

Behind Putin’s surprise release of Khodorkovsky: Sochi and self-confidence?

Putin’s amnesties: Political thaw or PR stunt?

Russia’s anti-gay law tests Olympic tenets




The Sofia Globe staff

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