News / Europe

Protesters Barricade Bulgarian Parliament

  • Protesters burn a barricade outside the parliament building in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 24, 2013.
  • Protesters throw objects at a heavily guarded bus transporting deputies out of parliament where they had been discussing budget measures, Sofia, Bulgaria, July 23, 2013.
  • Police guard a bus for members of parliament, Sofia, Bulgaria, July 23, 2013.
  • Police surround protesters outside parliament, Sofia, Bulgaria, July 23, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
— The president of Bulgaria has made an appeal for calm after more than 40 days of protests escalated Tuesday.  Demonstrators blockaded parliament, trapping more than 100 people inside.

Protesters have been carrying out peaceful demonstrations in Bulgaria for five weeks.  But overnight Tuesday the situation escalated.

x
Hundreds of protesters barricaded the parliament in Sofia, trapping more than 100 people inside for more than seven hours.  Anti-riot police finally broke up the barricade in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Georgi was one protester on the streets of Sofia. "This government should resign immediately.  If it does not than the 40 days of peaceful protests are enough.  From now on the situation might get critical," he said.

The current government has only been in power since May.  The previous government was forced to resign in February following protests over poverty and corruption.

Fresh protests began in mid-June after the government appointed a powerful media magnate to the post of security chief.  The decision was quickly reversed, but the protests persisted with demonstrators demanding fresh elections.

Francois Frison-Roche is a senior researcher at the University of Paris.

“Really I think that the government is going to resign sooner or later.  This government does not represent the will of the majority of the people,” said the researcher.

He said Bulgarian politicians needed to learn how to react to popular protest in a democratic way.

“Bulgaria is a young democracy.  The political elite has to learn how to react to such protests.  And the European Union is certainly going to give some advice.  I think also that Bulgaria needs European funds and the political elite is going to realize that very quickly,” said Frison-Roche.

Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007.   EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding was in Bulgaria on Tuesday and voiced her support for the protests.

She acknowledged concerns raised by some that EU regional aid has been misspent in Bulgaria and said she would be assessing the situation further.

London School of Economics Bulgaria expert Will Bartlett said the main cause of unrest was not political, but economic.

“Corruption has been there all the time.  What is new is the economic crisis and I think that is what is really behind the political unrest.  Corruption is basically one symptom of that in terms of mobilizing people to mobilize against government,” he said.

Bulgaria is the Union’s poorest country.  Poverty has been made worse by the Europe-wide economic crisis, which has meant demands for exports have been low and there has been a significant drop in foreign direct investment.  Banking credit has become increasingly difficult to secure and unemployment is on the rise. 

Bulgaria is not part of the European single currency and has not received the types of bailout packages awarded to other struggling economies, like Greece and Portugal.
But Bartlett said European countries that were not part of the euro zone were also deeply impacted by the continent’s economic woes.  Right now, he said, the country needed the Union’s support.

“Really it needs some patience to develop and assistance to develop and become part of the EU community,” said Bartlett.

According to the latest Global Corruption Barometer published by corruption watchdog Transparency International, the highest level of corruption in Bulgaria is found in the judiciary, followed by the health sector.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid