The anti-government group that had been occupying the central campus of Sofia University, barring access to outsiders, ended its occupation on the morning of January 28 2014 – while insisting that their demands remained unchanged.
Various reasons were given for ending the occupation, which began in the early hours of January 25. These included strong public and media pressure, a lack of wider public solidarity, and making way so that lecturers could be paid their salaries.
The university said that January 28 would be a normal working day, with lectures, examinations and administrative work.
“The blockade of the university ended without accomplishing its goals because it did get support from society. Many sent praise, but few – help,” said Manol Glishev, a leader of the occupation.
The occupation was a sequel to the previous occupation, from October to mid-January, to demand the resignation of the current Bulgarian Socialist Party government.
The January 25 occupation’s demands included the resignation of the government and of university rector Ivan Ilchev.
Ilchev was reported by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television as saying that he was not surprised by the turn of events.
“Pressure was exerted by various sides. Many colleagues who were against the occupation have helped us,” Ilchev said.
The management of the university said that it would take steps to prevent re-occupation of the campus. University managers were touring the building to “check for damage,” Ilchev said.
Consideration was being given to lodging claims against the occupiers, he said.
After the occupation ended, the strong police presence that had been outside the building was withdrawn. On January 27, a police cordon separated rival groups supporting and opposing the occupation.
As the occupiers left, they were stopped by police who demanded to see their identity cards and recorded the information. Ilchev had lodged a complaint with prosecutors about the occupation the previous day.
One of the occupiers, Vesselin Nedkov, said that they had taken the decision to withdraw after much deliberation overnight. He said that Ilchev had said that employees of the university would not receive their salaries until the occupation was terminated.
The occupiers, in a statement on January 28, said that they hoped that students, protest networks, and parties would be attracted a single, decisive protest against the government and the current Parliament.
“Not enough people have responded to this initiative, so thanks to all who have supported us, and we are going out, but we continue to work with all who share our demands for resignation and new elections.”
(Archive photo from the October 2013 occupation of Sofia University: Noresharski.com)