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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmarki
    X
    John Owens
    June 26, 2016 2:04 PM
    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora