Garmen protesters in failed bid to break police cordon at Roma neighbourhood
A group of protesters in Garmen municipality made a failed attempt to break through a police cordon guarding the Roma neighbourhood of Kremikovtsi, target of the protesters because of alleged illegal construction and crime.
Participants in the protest threw bottles and beer cans at police who were guarding the neighbourhood, from which – according to police- most Roma people had fled into the forest ahead of the June 2 protest.
Reporting from the scene, Bulgarian National Television said that it was not clear whether those who had attempted to storm the neighbourhood were agents provocateur, but said that they appeared to fit the profile.
The Garmen protest, a sequel to a clash 10 days earlier between Bulgarians and Roma in the town, was attended by a group of about 30 bikers and people from elsewhere in Bulgaria.
The attempt to enter the Roma neighbourhood was the only serious incident in an otherwise peaceful protest, which lasted about three hours.
The protesters had given state authorities until June 2 to remove the alleged illegal constructions in the Kremikovtsi area and “deport” the large numbers of Roma people who had arrived recently.
However, on June 2 the protesters said that they were setting a new deadline of July 18.
Both dates were picked because of their evocative meaning in Bulgarian life. On June 2, Bulgaria honours the memory of Hristo Botev, the poet who died in the 19th century struggle against Ottoman rule. July 18 is the birthday of liberation struggle hero Vassil Levski, who was hanged for his efforts against the Ottoman empire.
Protesters said that if the July 18 deadline was not met, they would take their protest to Sofia and hold a demonstration outside the National Assembly.