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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More