Thousands turned out in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia on the evening of May 30 in a protest against President Roumen Radev, with posters labelling him a “servant of Russia”, and chants calling him a “disgrace” and demanding his resignation.
After months of resentment among pro-EU and pro-Nato supporters regarding Radev’s stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine, the catalyst for the Tuesday protest was his behaviour the day before while handing the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria coalition a mandate to seek to form a government.
Against the background of the illicit release of a recording of WCC internal discussions on seeking a deal with GERB-UDF to form a government, Radev told the WCC-DB delegation that he was handing the mandate to them “with disgust” and called on them to give up their bid for a government.
From 7pm, the protesters gathered outside the Presidency building, which was guarded by a large phalanx of police, and chanted “Resign!” and “This is not Moscow!”
One of the posters read: “Roumen Radev is a disgrace to Bulgaria, a servant of Russia, the eternal empire of evil”.
There were plentiful Bulgarian and EU flags waved by the crowd, with some also bearing Nato and Ukrainian flags. Through the caretaker government he appointed, Radev has opposed Bulgaria supplying arms to Ukraine and is against sanctions on Russia over that country’s illegal war on Ukraine.
The protest was joined by WCC co-leaders Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev, along with other senior members of the party. For all the controversy over WCC-DB essaying a deal with Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF, the arrival of Petkov and Vassilev was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
Petkov told the crowd: “The real guarantor of democracy is you and I thank you for being here.
“The fact that in Bulgaria there is a civil society that, when it sees an attack on democracy, on the parliamentary republic, and fills the square, is the real guarantee that what we manage to change remains changed,” Petkov said.
“People who are trying to bring back the old systems, the old security services, which from morning to night work to come up with kompromat (a Soviet-era term for compromising materials, whether genuine or fake), really feel that they are wasting their historical time,” he said.
Petkov said that several hundred thousand Bulgarians say that Bulgaria is a European country and needs a European government. Bulgaria does not have a path to Eurasia and the East, but will be a normal European country, he said.
Vassilev told the protesters that matters were currently at a crossroads and a new Iron Curtain is coming down in Europe.
“A new Iron Curtain that divides Europe in two. Europe – free, democratic, prosperous or the Europe of the former USSR. And there is no place for countries that want to stand on the fence. We have to choose and decide what is the Bulgarian national interest. To be in a prosperous, free and democratic Europe or to go back to the Soviet Union,” Vassilev said.
(All photos: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)
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