Bulgaria on November 18: Rain, snow and protests

Motorists in Bulgaria could face some difficulties on November 18, with protests possibly obstructing central Sofia and some other roads in the country, while much of Bulgaria is forecast to see either rain or snow.

As temperatures fell at the start of the weekend, weather forecasters in Bulgaria issued a warning of potentially hazardous weather because of heavy rain expected in 10 districts on November 18.

The districts are Blagoevgrad, Bourgas, Haskovo, Kurdzhali, Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Sliven, Smolyan, Stara Zagora and Yambol.

Snow is forecast for much of north-western Bulgaria. Sofia is expected to see rain and light snow, with temperatures in the Bulgarian capital city rising from a minimum minus two degrees Celsius to a high of five.

Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency called on motorists planning to travel on November 18 to ensure that their vehicles were ready for winter conditions. The agency urged motorists to drive carefully, at reasonable speeds, maintain safe following distances and to avoid abrupt manoeuvres.

The heads of the 27 district road administrations are to monitor local weather conditions and take steps when required to treat roads in high mountain areas and other places where there is a risk of icing or slipperiness on the roads.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said on November 17 that four applications had been lodged for protests in the city the following day. Each had different demands, said Fandukova, one of three deputy leaders of the GERB party of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, whose government has been the target of protests in recent days.

These protests, ostensibly over “high fuel prices” have had a disruptive effect disproportionate to the number of participants, because cars have been used to obstruct traffic on motorways and key city thoroughfares.

Fandukova, commenting on the protests, said that apparently someone was seeking to exploit discontent in the country.

It remains to be seen how large participation will be in the protests in Sofia on Sunday.

One protest that began on November 17, called for three days, outside Parliament in Sofia – demanding, among other things, the resignation of the government – saw a turnout of all of 10 people on Saturday morning, according to reporters at the scene.

One of the protests set for November 18 is a so-called “people’s assembly”, to begin in central Sofia at 3pm. Georgi Georgiev of the Promyana (“change”) movement told a television reporter that the protesters want an end to the “political genocide of the population”.

Georgiev said the leaders of these protests also had been involved in the February 2013 protests that had brought down the first Borissov government. He and another of the organisers, Metodi Buchvarov, insisted that there was no political party behind them.

The organisers of the “people’s assembly” protest expect participants to be coming in to Sofia from other parts of the country.

On November 19, there is to be another protest in Sofia, of which an organiser is Alexander Stamboliiski of Blagoevgrad, who has been prominent in the “fuel price” protests. He told the media that he was not linked to the Sunday protests. The Monday protest also is expected to see cars coming in to Sofia from other parts of Bulgaria, possibly also causing traffic difficulties.

On November 17, there was a road blockade in Lom, with cars obstructing a traffic circle. “The protests will not be interrupted until all prices have fallen to a level that people can afford,” an organiser, Ventsislav Yossifov, told local media.

Reports said that Petrohan Pass, an important thoroughfare in Bulgaria’s Stara Planina mountain range, linking Sofia with Montana in the north-western part of the country, could be blocked by protesters on November 18.

(Photo: flickr.com/kt ann)



The Sofia Globe staff

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