Anti-government rally descends on Bulgaria Parliament | Daily News


Anti-government rally descends on Bulgaria Parliament

Hundreds of Bulgarian protesters descended on the parliament building in the capital Sofia on Thursday, accusing the government of corruption and using prosecutors to target political opponents.

More than 1,000 protesters besieged parliament shouting “resign” with the rally planned to last into the evening, continuing two months of almost daily protests.

They want to remove the cabinet of conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borisov over its perceived closeness to shady oligarchs.

Chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev is also in the firing line over claims he has targeted government critics including Socialist-backed President Rumen Radev, who has backed the protests.

Borisov, who ended his previous two terms in office ahead of time, has repeatedly said he will finish his current mandate due to expire in March 2021.

Thursday’s rally comes a week after nearly 200 people were hurt in clashes at another protest, where groups of football fans threw dozens of improvised explosive devices at security cordons.

Anti-riot forces arrested 126 protesters, beating some of them and several journalists in scenes unprecedented in the Balkan country in recent years.

Protest organisers and police appealed for Thursday’s rally to remain peaceful, with checkpoints set up in the city centre.

“Resignation of Borisov and the whole government -- that’s why we have been here for 64 days already and we’ll stay for 64 more if needed,” said lawyer Nikolay Hadzhigenov, one of the protest organisers.

During a search early on Thursday in a public garden near parliament, police said they had found several bottles full of an unidentified pungent liquid, wooden sticks, metal rods, bags of stones and two knives potentially “prepared” by provocators.

Six people were also arrested for carrying objects deemed dangerous, including a woman who refused to discard the self-defence spray she had, police said.

In a sign of widening dissent against the government, poet Nikolay Kolev-Bosia started a hunger strike on Tuesday following another prominent activist who has already refused food for 31 days.

Thirteen years after joining the EU, Bulgaria remains its poorest and most corruption-ridden member, according to Transparency International’s corruption perception index.


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