In a new comment on continuing public protests by police, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has said that he is concerned by people’s fear of those meant to protect them.
On his personal website, Borissov said that he had watched videos on Facebook and other social networks, “where the behaviour of some police protesters did not differ from that of football supporters fans”.
“Not surprisingly, both journalists and citizens are outraged,” Borissov said, adding that he understood the concerns of police, but they should not be an example of how not to behave.
Writing on November 5, as police protests continued in Sofia and other cities, disrupting traffic at main intersections – even though the government has backed down in part on proposed pay package cuts – Borissov said that the reality, “unfortunately” was that in the Budget, cuts had to be made and costs optimised.
He added that failures to succeed against theft and petty crimes, along with other police duties, meant that there must be reform and the quality of police work improved to meet people’s expectations.
Borissov dismissed as “speculation” that he intended dismissing Roumyana Buchvarova, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, underlining that she had his “full and unequivocal support” and describing her as a “reasonable and balanced woman”.
Buchvarova might not be from within the Interior Ministry system, but for years political leadership had intervened in the work of the professional leadership of the ministry, Borissov said.
He said that the proposals for the cuts had been made by Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and he had approved them.
Borissov reiterated that those who bothered citizens with illegal protests and created huge traffic congestion should suffer the consequences of the law.
Earlier this week, Buchvarova said that the applications of all those who submitted their resignations from the Interior Ministry would be accepted.
Media reports and Interior Ministry trade unions have made various claims about large numbers of police submitting resignations because of the proposals regarding cutbacks to their perks.
Meanwhile, on social networks, what were purported to be copies of orders signed by Buchvarova were posted, one saying that all resignation applications at the lowest ranks submitted in the morning should be signed as accepted the same day, the other instructing local commanders to gather information on the identities of police participating in the illegal protests and take disciplinary action against them.
The Trade Union Federation of Interior Ministry Officers complained of “repression” aimed at the dismissal of participants in the blockades of key roads in Sofia and elsewhere in the country.
The federation said on November 5 that it had information about orders about collecting the names of the “colleagues involved in the spontaneous events”, requests for explanations and fast-tracking of applications to resign, long before the statutory time limits.
“We absolutely do not believe that such actions are helping to stabilise the situation,” the federation said.
A national protest by police is planned for Sofia on November 8.
In “spontaneous protests” so far this week, participants have, among other things, hurled stotinki coins at the building of the National Assembly, jeered MPs, allegedly behaved aggressively towards motorists and pedestrians who complained about the traffic disruption, and shouted ironically outside Parliament, “call the cops!”.