Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry: Necessary measures will be taken to secure Sofia Pride

The necessary measures will be taken to secure Sofia Pride, according to Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry.

The assurance was given at June 15 meeting, two days ahead of the 2023 Sofia Pride, between Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov, senior Interior Ministry and municipal security officials and representatives of the Pride organising committee, Simeon Vassilev, Dimitar Bogdanov, Radoslav Stoyanov and Denitsa Lyubenova.

The meeting was held in the wake of a homophobic demonstration by supporters of far-right groups, including people wearing Vuzrazhdane party t-shirts, that led to the cancellation of a screening of award-winning film Close, part of the Sofia Pride Film Festival.

On the night of June 14, people wearing Vuzrazhdane t-shirts tried to prevent the screening of the same film at a cinema in Bulgaria’s city of Plovdiv.

At the meeting at the Interior Ministry, Stoyanov said: “The Interior Ministry always takes measures to ensure the security of mass events. We will take all measures this time as well. Preparations have already been made”.

The meeting also discussed preventive actions to prevent provocations, the Interior Ministry said.

Bulgarian news agency BTA reported a European Commission spokesperson, asked on June 15 about the disruption of the Sofia Pride Film Festival screening, as saying: “We are not aware of these cases. We can only say that if there were such attacks, we cannot justify them and we would condemn them.

“We expect the state to take appropriate legal action,” the EC spokesperson said.

Plovdiv news website Pod Tepeto reported that on June 14, a group of Vuzrazhdane supporters led by MP Emil Yankov tried to stop the screening of Close, part of the Lucky House of Cinema programme in the French-language Francofolie festival.

Photo: podtepeto.com

The report said the group insulted those attending the screening with various epithets. Offensive language was also directed at completely random passers-by at the Fargo bar next door to the cinema, as well as a woman working at the bar who had asked not to be photographed.

The group did not succeed in preventing the screening. Police were called and escorted them out of the building.

On June 15, Plovdiv deputy mayor for culture Plamen Panov called the Vuzrazhdane invasion of the cinema a “very ugly and Neanderthal manifestation”.

At a Sofia City Council meeting on June 15, Democratic Bulgaria councillors called on all free-thinking people to join the upcoming Sofia Pride 2023 on June 17.

“In an impromptu statement on behalf of the group, Veselin Kalanovski emphasised that Sofia Pride is not just a gay parade, but an expression of free-thinking that every civilised person should defend,” Democratic Bulgaria said in a media statement.

(Main photo: Interior Ministry press centre)

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