Bulgaria Mourns Its 'Jan Palach'
Wednesday, March 6, is a day of national mourning in Bulgaria in commemoration of Varna man, Plamen Goranov, who passed away Sunday after setting himself on fire.
The outgoing government of the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party GERB made the decision without holding a meeting, according to the government's press office, after the municipal council in the Black Sea city of Varna sent a request to do so.
The mass is going to be served at 11:30 am in the Saint Petka Church in Varna. After that Goranov's remains will be transported to the capital Sofia for cremation as this has been his father's wish.
The urn will be returned to Varna by the end of the week and will be placed in the city's central cemetery, but the exact date remains unknown.
Goranov, 36, took the drastic action on February 20, amid a wave of massive protests across the country against poverty, economic stagnation and corruption.
In addition to demanding the resignation of fourth-term Varna Mayor, Kiril Yordanov, he was one of the few to explicitly blame shady TIM business group, centered in Varna, for the dire situation in the country and in the north-east in particular.
Bulgarians, especially those on social networks, have called him a martyr of the protests in comparing him with Czech student, Jan Palach.
Goranov died on March 3, which many have seen as symbolic since the day is the country's national holiday when Bulgaria celebrates its liberation from 5 centuries of Ottoman rule.
His condition worsened Sunday evening and he succumbed to multiple organ failure, after being for several days on induced coma.
Silent vigils were held across Bulgaria on Monday and Tuesday, as news of the young man's death were released from Varna's Military Hospital.
On Tuesday, Father Georgi served a memorial mass on the key Sofia intersection Eagles' Bridge, symbol of Bulgarian protests now, where participants lit candles, laid flowers, and brought Bulgarian national colors.
A large crowd gathered before the City Hall in Varna to bow to Plamen. In addition to honoring him by a minute of silence and lighting candles, some began carrying stones and rocks to the site, inspired by a well-known poem of Bulgarian national poet Ivan Vazov, dubbed "Heap of Stones" in sign of indignation and protest against Yordanov.
Signs sprayed on the sidewalk there read "Thank You for Waking Us Up," "Thank You for the Hope," "Varna's Bravest Man," and "There Is No Death, There Is Only Victory," among others.
Meanwhile, on the very same day, when the country is mourning Goranov, Yordanov is expected to announce at noon if he is going to resign.
As soon as the news about his sacrifice emerged, the Mayor said he would do so, if the probe establishes evidence he is directly responsible for the tragedy.
Yordanov was lastly endorsed by GERB and elected on its ballot. He is said to have been serving TIM's interests.
Goranov's was the second of a string of three self-immolations that shocked Bulgaria as political and economic stability deteriorated.
26-year-old Traian Marechkov set himself on fire and died soon after in Veliko Tarnovo on February 19, having explained he is too despaired to live on.
53-year-old Ventsislav Vasiliev set himself on fire in Radnevo on February 26, having explained he has long lived in great poverty. He is currently hospitalized in a critical condition.
Plamen Goranov was a politically aware and active young man, and his extreme action is widely seen as being politically motivated.
The center-right government of Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov resigned amid protests on February 20, with snap elections to be probably held May 12, just two months ahead of the regular date in July.