Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has asked Parliament to authorise the arrest of Ataka party leader Volen Siderov and Ataka MP Dessislav Chukolov in connection with their assault on students at the national theatre academy – a request based on an October 23 incident and prepared before the October 25 fracas in which Siderov was involved at the academy building.
Meanwhile, on Facebook a protest has been organised for October 26, outside the National Assembly at 5.30pm, demanding the removal of Siderov’s immunity from prosecution, following a series of incidents in which the extremist party leader has been involved. Ten thousand Facebook users said that they would attend – which if even a fraction of which actually go would make it one of the largest public protests in Sofia recently.
The Prosecutor’s Office announced its latest request to Parliament regarding Siderov on October 26, the morning after the chaotic incident at the National Academy for Film and Theatre Arts that followed Siderov and Ataka members intruding on students at the academy. Siderov was removed from the scene, with police protecting him from a large crowd outraged at his behaviour. At one point, Siderov was struck by an as-yet unidentified man, leaving the Ataka leader with a slightly bruised and bloodied cheek.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office statement, Siderov and Chukolov entered the building of the academy on the night of October 23, disrupting classes, using abusive language and with Siderov using force to coerce a student into deleting a phone photograph of him at the scene.
The actions of the two MPs provoked shock and outrage among students and teachers, the statement said.
The evidence collected led to the conclusion that Siderov and Chukolov had behaved indecently, grossly violated public order and expressed obvious disrespect for society in actions characterised by extreme audacity, the statement said.
The Prosecutor-General’s request to waive the immunity of Siderov from prosecution is the third in a row, the statement said. Previously, a request was filed regarding an October 12 incident at an all-night liquor store, so that Siderov and Chukolov could face charges of hooliganism and causing bodily harm to two police officers. The National Assembly had not yet acted on this request, the Prosecutor’s Office noted.
The first of the three requests was in connection with charges of hooliganism and assault of a police officer, in connection with an incident in January 2014 at Varna Airport.
Bulgaria’s Parliament has been in recess because of the campaign ahead of the October 25 municipal elections. It is to resume on October 28, when a parliamentary committee is expected to meet to consider the requests to remove the immunity of Siderov and Chukolov.
Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, who was at the scene of the clash at the academy on the night of October 25, said in October 26 television interviews that the man who had hit Siderov was not a police officer, nor had he ever been one, and neither did he have any connection to the theatre academy.
Buchvarova said that Siderov had questioned at a police station and had been taken to Pirogov hospital for a medical examination. Given that Siderov has immunity as an MP, a blood-alcohol test could not be performed.