Led by head of state President Rossen Plevneliev, Bulgarians joined in celebrating the country’s national day on March 3 2015, celebrating the 137th anniversary of Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule.
Formal ceremonies were held in capital city Sofia to mark the anniversary of the signing of the San Stefano Treaty ending the Russo-Turkish war that opened the way for Bulgaria to become a sovereign state.
At Sofia’s landmark Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit presided at a traditional ceremony honouring the heroes of Bulgaria’s struggle for liberation from Ottoman rule.
At military ceremonies in the morning and that were scheduled for the evening, President Plevneliev – constitutionally also commander-in-chief of the armed forces – received the salute at military tattoos.
Plevneliev also was to receive diplomats accredited to Bulgaria on the occasion of the national day.
Bulgarians gathered at Shipka Peak, as custom dictates, to pay tribute to the heroic endeavours of Bulgarians who fought to oppose Turkish forces in the 1877 war to free the country.
As to partisan politics, the day also was seized on by far-right ultra-nationalists who sought to piggyback on the commemorations.
Ataka, one of the two smallest parties in Bulgaria’s Parliament, bussed in supporters for what has become one of the party’s traditional celebrations of xenophobia and chauvinism in the centre of Sofia.
The euroskeptic party marched in the Bulgarian capital, with some supporters bearing Russian flags, a Russophile demonstration out of kilter with Sofia’s stated policy of criticism towards Putin’s contemporary Moscow and its aggression in Ukraine and the unanswered questions regarding the murder of Kremlin opponent Boris Nemtsov.