Protest to be held in Bulgaria’s capital in solidarity with Ukraine, against President Radev’s stance

On February 24 2023, precisely a year since Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine, a march will be held in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and with sharp criticism of President Roumen Radev’s position on the war, organisers said.

The meeting point for the protest, being organised on social networks, is in front of the Presidency in Sofia at 7pm.

Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted in December 2022 to supply military assistance to Ukraine, though it has emerged, going by media reports quoting former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, that the former government had supplied weaponry to Ukraine as that country faced the invasion ordered by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. An earlier vote by Parliament had provided for only “military-technical” assistance for Ukraine, not weaponry.

The caretaker government appointed by Radev has said recently that it considers the December 2022 mandate from Parliament fulfilled, while Radev repeatedly has publicly called for the caretaker government to supply no further weaponry to Ukraine.

Radev has claimed that he favours a “peaceful” solution to Russia’s war on Ukraine, through a “diplomatic solution”.

Radev raised eyebrows in the election campaign for the second term of office that he won when he said that “Crimea is Russian”. Radev was first elected on a ticket backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which in latter days claims that its position on the war is for “peace”.

The same caretaker government appointed by Radev curtailed support for Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria. In November 2022, it extended the state support for hotels accommodating Ukrainian refugees, providing for funding for accommodation that did not include paying for food.

In recent days, the caretaker holders of the defence and foreign affairs portolios have echoed Radev’s stance that Bulgaria will supply no further weaponry to Ukraine.

Radev has described the We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria alliance, who backed Bulgaria supplying arms to Ukraine, as “warmongers”. They, in turn, denounced him as seeking to exceed his place as head of state by acting in contempt of a decision by Parliament, which under Bulgaria’s constitution, is sovereign in such matters.

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