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The voices of the anti-government protests in Sofia

Protesters: A person who spends too much time in power will get above himself

Photo: BTA

30 years ago Bulgarians flooded city streets and squares to demand a re-founding of their country which, at the time, had to break with totalitarianism. Now, people from all over Bulgaria are again in the streets protesting for one purpose – they want, at long last, to start living in a democratic, law-governed country.

For 21 days Alexander has spent his nights under the windows of those who hold the reins of power. He told Radio Bulgaria that he was there because “those who rule the country take from the public resource to give to a small circle of people, robbing the entire nation.”

And he points to the way out of the situation:

“Resignation of the government, resignation of the prosecutor general, resignation of the director general of BNT, the public service TV broadcaster, for a start. We want changes to the constitution regarding the judicial system, to make sure there is no concentration of unaccountable power in the hands of the prosecutor general. Our fight is for a country where there is rule of law, where nobody is robbing the people and where crimes get punished. There are people capable carrying through the reforms – they are visible, they speak here every night. At the moment those in power are just trying to buy time by handing out money, with their cabinet reshuffles, they are just biding their time until 1 August and the start of the summer holidays.”

Alexander does not want his photograph taken because he says it is not his face but his conduct as a citizen that really defines him. He will be there, in the square, until the resignations are submitted.

“Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev is doing nothing, and he is so arrogant.” That is how Delyan Pirinski describes his reasons to be at the protests every day. He wants a change of the model of the prosecutor’s office – “it must not be a strictly hierarchical, Stalinist-style prosecutor’s office.” The 30-year old programmer admires the placard protest art, giving as an example the parody pictures of Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP Delyan Peevski as a man-eating giant, or the three headed dragon – Dogan-Peevski-Borissov.

“I don’t think that Boyko Borissov’s rides in the SUV around the country are in response to the protests,” says Delyan Pirinski. “But I do think that by handing out money Borissov is trying to quell tensions in society and regain the lost trust. But I don’t think this ruse is working – the sums people are being given are so paltry.”

“That is election campaigning using public money,” a nearby protester adds.

Desislava Hristova is at the protests in the city centre every day demanding the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet for “lifetime achievement”. 

“I am not protesting to see a couple to ministers ousted, I want them all to go, I want a restart of the system,” Desislava, a lawyer, says for Radio Bulgaria. In her words the government is surviving in emergency mode, and the array of different people in the squares are united by the thing that matters most – the resignation of the cabinet and of the prosecutor general. 

“Nobody wants the premier’s teensy-weensy reforms,” she goes on to say. “As to the new audio that was leaked (of a man’s voice which sounds like Boyko Borissov using abusive language and profanities – editorial note), I want to say: Boyko Borissov you are an absolute disgrace to this country! From now on nobody should think they own the country saying they are building, they are giving people thnings… He sparked so much outrage in society, people are sick and tired of being trod on, lied to, manipulated, of living on the verge of destitution, always at the tail end of Europe. Even the construction work has turned out shoddy, because you can’t invest so little, want a big result, and pack your draw full of money all at the same time.”

The first steps, Desislava Hristova says, are a caretaker cabinet that will prepare the ground for fair elections and shed light on the way the country is run from the shadows.

“If a person spends too much time in power he will get power sickness and get above himself,” she adds. “It is wrong to stay in power forever, we know that from the past.”

Photos: Diana Tsankova, BTA

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