Several hundred Bulgarians attended a “Support Free Ukraine” demonstration outside the Ukrainian embassy in Sofia on January 23 2014, in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Kyiv and other cities.
It was not the first time that solidarity has been expressed in Sofia with Ukraine’s demonstrators after protests began in Kyiv on November 21 2013 following president Viktor Yanukovych’s turnabout from a pending EU deal to a policy of proximity to the Kremlin, but the January 23 protest was given a new impetus by the violence and deepening crisis in Ukraine.
The Bulgarian protesters, rallied on Facebook, referred to the EuroMaidan protesters in Kyiv as “people like us, up against the wall” – a reference to Bulgaria’s own many months of anti-government protests.
Outside the Ukrainian embassy, in Sofia’s Ovcha Kupel neighbourhood, protesters lit candles in honour of the memory of those who had died in the protests in Ukraine.
As the situation in Ukraine deteriorated, leaving at least three people dead on January 22 – two shot, and one found dead in a forest outside Kyiv after allegedly having been tortured, and with torture allegations being raised against the police – Bulgaria’s foreign ministry issued a new advisory urging Bulgarians to be cautious about travel in Ukraine, and specifically to avoid central Kyiv as well as large gatherings and demonstrations.
On January 22, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev announced that he was postponing a scheduled visit to Ukraine in May 2014 because of human rights violations and political instability in that country.
Live updates on the situation in Ukraine can be found at the website of The Kyiv Post.
(Photo: Yvo Bojkov via Facebook)