Minority parties disrupt sitting of Bulgarian Parliament over dismantling of Soviet Army Monument

The December 14 sitting of Bulgaria’s National Assembly was disrupted soon after it began as MPs from three minority parliamentary groups formed a phalanx in front of the speaker’s lectern.

MPs from pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) took part in the protest to demand a reverse of the dismantling of the Soviet Army Monument in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, while those from ITN – Parliament’s smallest group – were there to protest against draft amendments to the constitution.

As the MPs clustered in front of the speaker’s lectern, Speaker of the National Assembly Rossen Zhelyazkov asked whether they intended a “happening” or a choral performance.

Zhelyazkov suspended the sitting and a meeting of the presiding officers council was held, while in the near-empty House, a handful of MPs continued milling around.

According to BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, at that meeting it was decided to adjourn the House pending the arrival of all documents related to the relocation of the monument “and it will be judged whether they are legal”.

After that, a decision would be taken whether the sitting – meant to deal with the second reading of the budgets of the National Health Insurance Fund and the state social insurance – would be resumed.

Vuzrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov said that the boycott of Parliament sittings would not stop until the dismantling of the Soviet Army Monument stops.

On the night of December 14, Vuzrazhdane and the BSP held a protest – drawing notably low turnout – at the site of the monument, which commemorates the invasion of Bulgaria by the Soviet Army at the close of the Second World War. The monument, dating back seven decades to Bulgaria’s communist era, has been found to be in a condition so deteriorated as to be a public hazard.

To the delight of those who have long since wanted to see the communist-era mammoth relic gone, on December 14, the third day of the dismantling operation, a crane removed the head of a figure meant to represent a Soviet soldier. Earlier, the figure’s arm, holding a machine gun, had been removed.

On December 13, President Roumen Radev said that the “barbaric” destruction of monuments was not only an attempt to erase history but also worsened confrontation in society.

“Those who encroached on the symbols of statehood, the national day, the Bulgarian flag, and who are preparing to hijack the Constitution, too, are today cutting up our history piece by piece,” Radev said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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