Rain at the start did not deter several hundred Bulgarians from turning out for a protest themed “Bulgaria in the EU. Fascism is not patriotism” on the evening of June 15.
The protest was directed principally at pro-Kremlin parliamentary party Vuzrazhdane and at President Roumen Radev.
The event was provoked by several incidents, including Vuzrazhdane’s attempts to prevent We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria MPs from addressing Parliament, Vuzrazhdane’s involvement in hurling red paint at the European Parliament building in Sofia, and the role of people wearing Vuzrazhdane t-shirts in homophobic incidents directed against the Sofia Pride Film Festival.
Critics of Radev say that his stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine show that his loyalty lies with Putin’s Kremlin and not with the national interests of Bulgaria, a member of Nato and the EU. Radev says that rather than arming Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, he favours “peace”.
At the starting point of the march outside the Presidency building in Dondukov Boulevard, those addressing the crowd denounced Radev as a traitor and Vuzrazhdane as fascists.
“It is high time to show that Vuzrazhdane cannot say that it speaks on behalf of the entire Bulgarian people. There are 240 MPs in Parliament, that is the Bulgarian people, and Vuzrazhdane has 37.”
“The fact is that the leader of the party Kostadin Kostadinov and his colleagues often take the position of ‘speaking’ on behalf of the people. In their appearances before the media and in Parliament, they make provocative statements and defend extreme theses. They often use insults and rude language, even in the plenary hall of the National Assembly. They fight against political opponents who speak out, and recently (Vuzrazhdane MP)Tsoncho Ganev spat at – in the literal sense, an MP.”
The sign says: ‘No more fascism, Sofia Brussels Ankara Moscow’
Protesters said: “We must show that our path is in Europe and with Europe, we must remain in the EU and Nato. It is high time to say that Russia is an aggressor and Crimea is not Russian, Mr. Radev”.
There were chants of “This is not Moscow” at the gathering and as it made its way to Vuzrazhdane’s headquarters in Hristo Botev Boulevard, escorted by a large phalanx of police, though a number of police withdrew after the protesters arrived. After the stop at Vuzrazhdane headquarters, where there were more chants of “This is not Moscow” and “fascists”, the march was to proceed to the National Assembly building.
The protesters outside Vuzrazhdane headquarters.
(All photos: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)
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