The balcony scene: Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019

Behold, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the opening ceremony of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019.

In recent days, there has been considerable comment by Bulgarians on social networks after a department of the Interior Ministry in Plovdiv distributed leaflefts telling people that during the opening ceremony, there would be a ban on doors and windows being open on buildings facing Tsar Boris III Obedinitel Boulevard and no one would be allowed to stand on their balconies.

The measure was listed as among the strict security measures to secure the January 12 opening ceremony, which according to official estimates is to be attended by 30 000 people, including hundreds of official guests.

However, a day after the leaflets were placed at entrances to residential buildings in the area, they were swiftly removed.

“Naturally, everyone living in the immediate vicinity will be able to observe from the dwellings that they own and where they live,” Atanas Ilkov, head of the Interior Ministry directorate in Plovdiv, said.

The reaction to the leaflets and to the other security measures was unjustified hysteria, Tanya Grozdanova, a journalist with Plovdiv news website, wrote in a comment on the site.

“I know with certainty that no Plovdiv person would keep his windows open between 5pm and 9pm on January 12, whether or not there are fireworks on his street,” Grozdanova said.

Grozdanova said that the security measures were of a level one above those customary for a large football match, and one below those for a papal visit – a reference to the visit to Plovdiv by Pope John Paul II in May 2002.

Earlier, police in Plovdiv announced that there would be 23 security checkpoints where people attending the opening event on January 12 would be checked.

No one with weapons or carrying fireworks would be admitted, and nor would anyone who was visibly intoxicated, police said. Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev has decreed a ban on the use of drones in the area before, during and after the opening ceremony.

A large number of police is being deployed in the city to secure the event, assisted by police seconded from Sofia and by a private security firm from the Bulgarian capital city.

During the opening weekend of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019, a large part of central Plovdiv is being closed to traffic and parking is forbidden. The city is providing three “buffer areas” for parking.




The Sofia Globe staff

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