Publicado: 17/10/2020

Tired but defiant: 100 days of protests in Bulgaria

Tired but defiant: 100 days of protests in Bulgaria

Sofia (AFP) -

In a hundred days of sweeping and at times violent protests, thousands of Bulgarians have tightened the screws on the political elite -- but this, they say, is only the beginning.

'I am tired of the government's refusal to hear our demands, but I keep protesting as an act of defiance,' Mila Loarova, a 39-year-old puppet theatre actress and director, snaps.

On the 100th day of protests in Sofia on Friday, several thousand people braved pouring rain to once again demand the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his conservative cabinet, as well as the country's chief prosecutor, Ivan Geshev.

They accuse the government of favouritism, dependence on powerful oligarchs and weaponising prosecutions against political opponents -- the most serious accusations Borisov has faced during his almost ten years in power.

'Our problem lies in the mere perception of what is normal. We are so used to corruption, nepotism, broken pavements, road potholes, ugly buildings, wrecked cars that for us what an ordinary European would consider inadmissible has turned into something ordinary,' says Kolarova's partner, Vladimir Vasilev.

- 'Up against a wall' -

Two high-profile incidents lit the protesters' fuse.

First, a live broadcast on Facebook in July revealed that an oligarch had sealed off a public beach for his seaside villa and that state security agents barred public access to it.

Then, heavily armed police and prosecutors raided the offices of one of Borisov's most trenchant critics, President Rumen Radev.

Vasilev, a 42-year-old engineer and musician, says years of bad governance blurred people's perception until these incidents acted 'as a big hand coming out of the fog to slap you in the face and you say to yourself: damn, this cannot just go on like that.'

Despite considerable pressure to resign and a storm of other allegations of high-level corruption and influence peddling, Borisov has refused to step down, saying he will remain in power until the end of his term in March 2021.

Recent polls, however, show that Bulgarians no longer see Borisov as the no-nonsense tough guy and former firefighter with a black belt in karate who communicated to voters with ease.

Some 66 percent of Bulgarians back the protests and 44 percent want his immediate resignation and snap elections, while Borisov's personal approval rating dropped to an all-time low of 20.3 percent, according to a recent Alpha research poll.

'This is what the protest did -- it totally shifted the position of this government -- from someone at the top and in power, to someone who is absolutely put up against a wall, lacking any legitimacy,' Vasilev says.

- 'The people awoke' -

The demonstrations also consolidated ordinary Bulgarians, who realised that they were not alone in pushing for more morals, integrity and intelligence in politics, he adds.

People from all walks of life -- and from across the political spectrum -- have joined in the evening rallies, a first for Bulgaria, and hundreds of Bulgarians living abroad have also staged protests.

After weeks of calling for Brussels to turn its eye to developments in its poorest member state, the European Parliament last week passed a critical resolution.

It offered 'unequivocal support for the people of Bulgaria in their legitimate demands and aspirations for justice, transparency, accountability and democracy'.

In a failed bid to appease protesters, Borisov sacked several key ministers.

But a night of violence on September 3, when anti-riot forces dispersed the rally by force, arrested 126 protesters and beat dozens in an unprecedented show of force only exacerbated people's anger.

'To me, one very meaningful victory of the protest... is that the people awoke and got back this will to fight for what's right,' Kolarova says.

As of today, however, she sees 'no rosy happy end'.

'Like Sisyphus, it is important to go back down there every time and start pushing that boulder up again because that's just the beginning of the road and we have to walk it,' she said.

'We must be ready to protest for hundreds and hundreds more days in the future,' Vasilev adds.

Más en Zeta

Facciones se movilizan

Facciones se movilizan

30 September 2020
En el oficialista Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD), las facciones se movilizan. Un Frente de Profesionales pide a su junta directiva que se acerque más al gobierno y que fije fecha para la elección de sus 4,200 delegados. ¿Fuego amigo?El veterano exdiputado y dirigente del PRD, Héctor Al...

La inversión extranjera, un ingrediente clave para la recuperación

ZETA, (JEAN PIERRE LEIGNADIER*).- Se ha iniciado un proceso de reapertura económica en el cual todos los sectores productivos del país deben trabajar de manera sostenida hacia la recuperación y reactivación; paralelamente hay que dar pasos firmes y certeros para fortalecer y proyectar las ventaja...

Planificación turística frente a nuevos retos y oportunidades

ZETA, (JEAN PIERRE LEIGNADIER).- Las actividades turísticas en el país reabren a partir de esta semana con el reto de reactivar este importante componente de la economía nacional. Al sector turismo le tomará más tiempo en recuperarse que otras actividades a nivel mundial; no obstante, hay que ac...

Explosivo debut al bate tuvo el novato Jordán Agrazal

ZETA, (HARMODIO ARROCHA JR).¿Qué me gustó de la apertura del torneo nacional de béisbol mayor 2020?. Lo bueno...El feroz despegue de la liga con la pólvora encendida y sobre todo buen pitcheo. A la ofensiva brilló el novato coclesano Jordán Agrazal, quien fue el héroe en el triunfo de Coclé por...

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.