Bulgarians to hold protest against police brutality

A protest is to be held in Sofia on July 10, prompted by the recent release of two videos depicting police brutality.

The protest, organised through Facebook, is themed “quality, not quantity at the Interior Ministry” and follows two videos that have caused controversy, one showing five police using excessive force against a young woman and young man in the early hours in central Sofia in late 2014, while the other apparently depicts Bulgarian Border Police assaulting would-be refugees.

Organisers of the protest, to begin outside the St Sedmochislenitsi church at 6pm, said that the protest was against the state of the Interior Ministry and the Bulgarian police in particular, who had become “uncontrollable and useless” but at the expense of an extremely expensive institution.

The organisers said that the Bulgarian police force was the largest in the EU and at the same time had a great number of benefits, including early retirement and big payouts at retirement.

They listed a series of demands, including scrapping the automatic right to early retirement, accelerating the use of e-government to reduce the abuse of police powers, regular lie detector tests of Interior Ministry employees, and clear rules on displaying the identification of police.

On July 8, it was reported that the police from the Sofia police first department seen in the video assaulting the couple had been dismissed.

The video was discussed at that day’s cabinet meeting, with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov expressing disgust at the police conduct. He said that police who used gratuitous violence should be dismissed forthwith.

Apart from the dismissal of the police involved in the incident, Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova has ordered an investigation into the work of the Sofia police first department.

Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov said that people could report police abuse by telephoning 982 2222. He said that in 2014, nine Interior Ministry officials had been dismissed because of such abuses.



The Sofia Globe staff

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