Bulgarians Stage Nationwide Protests on Liberation Day
Bulgarians are staging a new nationwide protest rally on Sunday, March 3, the day the country celebrates its National Holiday, marking the 135th anniversary of the Liberation from five centuries of Ottoman rule.
On this occasion, the organizers are calling on all Bulgarians to participate and to march peacefully, holding flowers to show respect to those who have perished for freedom.
Rallies are expected in all major cities and many towns.
Four protests will be held in the capital Sofia.
Organizers have announced two gathering points – the Ariana Lake in the Central Park Borisova Gradina near the Eagles' Bridge intersection and the Ministry of Economy and Energy.
The two far-right, nationalist Ataka and VMRO parties will hold their own marches in downtown Sofia.
There will be also a protest against flawed bank practices in Bulgaria and the lack of control on them from the Central Bank, BNB.
All rallies are to come together on the square in front of the building of the Parliament. Their meeting is to conclude by 5 pm in order to not interfere with the solemn military roll call and fireworks on the occasion of Liberation day.
In the Black Sea city of Varna, demonstrators are asked to wear badges in the form of flame in support of Plamen Goranov, 36, who set himself on fire in sign of protest in an act that prompted many to see him as Bulgaria's Jan Palach. The initiative belongs to Goranov's friends.
Goranov is still in critical condition with severe burns, but doctors have reported that he began breathing on his own. The blood donation action for him is ongoing.
Bulgarians abroad are also staging rallies to show support to fellow citizens.
Over 100 000 Bulgarians took to the streets last Sunday against the political model of ruling the country. The over two-week-long demonstrations started as protests against the unbearable utility bills, the monopolies and the wide-spread poverty, and later turned into a civil unrest and political demands.
There are strong disagreements among different groups of disgruntled people, but some of the demands that have emerged so far are: not adjourning the Parliament; the President appointing a program government instead of a caretaker one; drafting a Civil Participation Bill providing a 50% civil quota in all institutions; returning 51% of the shares of power utilities to the State; closing the Bulgarian Energy Holding, BEH, for draining the energy sector, summoning a Grand General Assembly, establishing a procedure to recall Members of the Parliament.
These demands, on their part, have stirred fears of an attempt to return to Communism as there have been calls for nationalization and full abolishment of the political system and of all parties.
On February 21, Bulgaria's Parliament approved the resignation of the government of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and his ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, amidst the unprecedented since 1997 protest rallies.