Bulgarian President sides with fuel price protests, calls government ‘arrogant and cynical’

Bulgarian President Roumen Radev, a continuous critic of the government, has effectively sided with protests over high fuel prices, and described the government as arrogant and cynical – but said that he does not believe the government should resign.

Radev was speaking on November 12, a day after the fuel price protests disrupted traffic on Bulgaria’s motorways and city thoroughfares. Protesters told the media they want the government to resign.

“Protests are a democratic right and also they bring back the hopes and dignity of Bulgarians as citizens. So, in my opinion, these protests are lawful,” Radev said.

He said that the government was “punishing citizens for poverty, which it is failing to overcome”.

“Not only that, but the voice of citizens, their pains and worries are not heard, they somehow do not reach the government.”

He said that if people were not listened to, “if there are no appropriate measures, if arrogant and cynical statements continue, if people’s misunderstanding continues, it is legitimate for these protests to continue”.

Radev said that he could not say whether the protests were politically directed.

Those who take a skeptical view of the protests say that they hardly appear simply a matter of organisation on social networks, and appear reminiscent of the anti-government protests of February 2013, which also were mobilised around cost of living issues. It was also notable, some Bulgarians commented on social networks, that the protests were calling for the resignation of the government, but did not target fuel retailers or the fuel refinery company in the country.

However, Radev said that he did not think that the government should resign.

“Resignation at a time of rising prices, inflation, increasing crime is not a solution but abdication of responsibility. Power should know that denial of government and escape from problems puts a moral barrier to the ambition of wanting power again.

“That is why I expect the government and the National Assembly to point a way out of this situation,” Radev said.

Alexander Stamboliiski, one of the faces of the protest who spoke to journalists on November 11, denied on Monday that the protests had covert political backing.

On November 12, the parliamentary leader of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, responded to the protests about the fuel price by saying that the government had no role in deciding the price, and adding that he saw the protests as an attempt to destabilise the country.



The Sofia Globe staff

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