The third in the series of “#ГАZwithme” protests in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia brought together many hundreds of participants vehemently against the claims of the caretaker government appointed by President Roumen Radev that talks with Russia’s Gazprom on gas supplies are “inevitable”.
The August 24 protest began outside the Presidency building, later moving on to merge with the peaceful March for Freedom and Independence, organised by Ukrainians in Bulgaria on the occasion of their country’s Independence Day.
The “#ГАZwithme” series of protests arises from objections to the caretaker government reversing the policies of its elected predecessor and thus sealing Bulgaria into continued dependence on Russian gas supplies, and by extension, the influence of Putin’s Kremlin.
The protest’s scale was large, in spite of many residents of Sofia being out of the city amid the late August summer holiday season.
The protest was backed by the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, which said that the caretaker government was “selling Bulgaria out by relentlessly trying to return the country to the Kremlin”.
“By deliberately ‘missing’ opportunities to secure gas supplies from other sources, including already agreed ones, the (caretaker Prime Minister Gulub) Donev cabinet is using the most effective weapon – fear and manipulation – to convince the public of the inevitability of returning to Gazprom,” Democratic Bulgaria said.
“The ‘Donev’ Cabinet proved to be the main weapon of the Kremlin in the hybrid war in Bulgaria and vanguard in Putin’s war with the democratic world,” it said.
The interim administration appointed by Radev has sought to portray Bulgaria as caught up in an “energy crisis”, attempting to lay the blame for this at the door of the December 2021-May 2022 Kiril Petkov government, which pivoted policy to diversification of energy supplies and away from dependence on Russia.
Bulgaria is set for early parliamentary elections on October 2 – the fourth time in two years that the country will elect a legislature – with the choice of energy policies currently a key issue in what Petkov has called a referendum on the choice of direction that the country will take.
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