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A hot protest summer in the offing in Bulgaria

Photo: BNR

Summer is here, and with it came a wave of protests in this country. Emotions in society have been heated up by two parallel crises – a political crisis that is connected with the vote of no confidence in the cabinet of Kiril Petkov, and an economic crisis triggered by the spiraling inflation and the rise in fuel prices which are hitting the pockets of the EU’s poorest population.

Today, 22 June, looks like one more day of political protests in Sofia, where the National Assembly is scheduled to put a vote of no confidence in the government to the vote this evening.

The supporters of the Petkov cabinet are organizing the latest in a series of demonstrations to state their support for the changes in Bulgaria and the country’s pro-European future.

“We mustn’t allow to be taken back to how things were years ago, one more generation of children shouldn’t have to grow up protesting in the streets with their parents,” a participant in the demonstration told the BNR. “We have a government that we do not think is perfect but which has given a clear signal it is pro-European, reformist. As a citizen what I saw last week frightens me – a very clearly defined new coalition is emerging that includes the party previously in power GERB, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, who are clearly mafia-connected, There Is Such a People, which stated their support for them, and also Vazrazhdane which, it is perfectly obvious, is a vocal pro-Putin proxy in Bulgaria.”

The smallest parliamentary group, that of the nationalist party Vazrazhdane also called its supporters to one more day of protest – against the government of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. One participant in the protest on 21 June gives his motives:

“I myself believe it is going to fall. This may actually be the first time the Americans do not have a Plan B. I believe the current situation is something they did not foresee, and that is why they have been unleashing their entire media resource in an attempt to salvage the situation. They are nothing to be afraid of. I think we are just a step away from the government falling.”

The current political crisis erupted after There Is Such a People (ITN), until recently the government’s coalition partner, withdrew confidence and its cabinet ministers, allegedly over the premier’s actions with regard to Bulgaria’s veto on the launch of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia. But then six ITN MPs left the party, stating they would remain loyal to the cabinet. One of them is Minister of Sport Radostin Vassilev. It is among the MPs from There Is Such a People that We Continue the Change see any chance of support for their government during the upcoming parliamentary vote of no confidence.

But before the vote, There Is Such a People are also organizing a protest – in front of the Sports Ministry in Sofia. The protesters will demand that the MPs who left ITN’s parliamentary group be recalled.

To the political demonstrations preceding the parliamentary vote of no confidence we should add the protest over the economic situation in Bulgaria (where the annual inflation rate for May 2022 stands at 15.6%), with the rise in fuel prices cited as the main reason for the increase in the prices of goods and services. It is over prices that, three hours before the motion of no confidence is voted in parliament, a national protest against high fuel prices is set to take place behind the building of the National Assembly in Sofia. The protest is organized on social media.

Besides in Sofia, protests have been taking place since the beginning of the week in a number of other cities in the country, with Bulgarians abroad organizing protests of their own.

Compiled by Elena Karkalanova

Photos: BGNES

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