A cameraman from Bulgarian television station BTV was assaulted during an anti-government protest in Sofia on September 16, with participants demonstrating hostility to the media, reports from the scene said.
The protest, billed as backed by Bulgarians living abroad, was organised on Facebook and is intended to be the first in a series, continuing indefinitely.
The organisers are Emil Rusanov, owner of the Budilnik site and reportedly resident in London, Rossen Milenov – formerly an employee of the chief directorate against organised crime and of the State Agency for National Security, and Svetoslav Kozludzhov.
The Budilnik site’s most recent posts include one from September 10, forecasting a chain of increases in prices in Bulgaria, from natural gas to basic foodstuffs, motor vehicle insurance and “smokeless” cigarettes. Claims of sharply increasing cost of living have become a recent recurring theme among those opposed to the government.
Rusinov told the crowd that he had received “thousands” of death threats because of organising the protest.
The stated aim of the protest, which on its first day saw several hundred participants, is the resignation of the current governnent, prosecutions and a “change to the system”. The demands include one that while the government should resign, Parliament should not be dissolved, to vote into place a government “chosen by the citizens”.
The protest was accompanied by a large police presence, which reporters noted kept order and allowed no provocations. Bulgarian-language media reports said that participants in the protest shouted at reporters that they were “sellouts”.
Reporters said that several faces at the protest were recognisable from previous protests against the Borissov government.
The protest blocked traffic in Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard for some hours in the afternoon.
Some days ahead of the September 16 protest, there were claims that there would be “provocations” during the event. The protest was held at the same time that numerous state and government institutions in Sofia, including the Presidency, were holding an open day.
The Sunday protest had been billed to continue until 10pm, but by late afternoon the crowd thinned considerably.
Organisers say that the protest will continue outside the National Assembly on September 17 from noon to 5.30pm, with a march to the Cabinet office at 6pm.
On September 16, protests also were to be held outside Bulgarian embassies in foreign capitals, and a protest outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels is planned for September 19.