New Clashes Reported at Sofia Anti-Govt Rally

Politics » DOMESTIC | November 12, 2013, Tuesday // 15:42
New Clashes Reported at Sofia Anti-Govt Rally: New Clashes Reported at Sofia Anti-Govt Rally Riot police officers are seen dispersing by force antigovernment protesters gathered near the rear entrance of the Bulgarian Parliament building in the capital Sofia, photo BGNES

New clashes have erupted at an anti-government rally in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, staged by university students and citizens who support them.

The latest incident happened around 3 pm as riot police officers tried to disperse the crowd gathered near the rear entrance of the Parliament building in order to make way for ten police vehicles to enter the security zone, obviously in an attempt to guard lawmakers leaving the building.

Police managed to push the protesters aside, including those sitting on the pavement, and the police automobiles have reached the rear parking lot behind the Parliament.

Earlier in the afternoon, clashes occurred as the demonstrators erected a makeshift barricade from street flower pots and trash containers. Police with batons and shields again pushed citizens with force, dragging some on the ground, while others fell from the pushing.

On Oborishte street, several people stopped with their bodies a police patrol car and some attempted to overturn it, but this was prevented by other demonstrators.

Reporters from local media say they have spotted provocateurs who are trying to fan the violence by pushing policemen and throwing bottles with mineral water at them.

University students, who organized the Tuesday protest with demands for the resignation of the Socialist-led government of Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, also say they oppose violence. After the latest clash, a large group of demonstrators raised their hands in the air, shouted "no violence!" and sang the national anthem.

The security zone and the Parliament's building are splattered with water bottles, tomatoes and rotten eggs.

More people are streaming to the area amidst fears violence might escalate with the arrival of the evening and the end of the workday.

Five people are under arrest, according to the most recent police report – four for disobeying police orders and one on suspicions he was involved in destruction of billboards during the Sunday rally.

Demonstrators are firm they will not allow anyone to leave the building of the Parliament.

However, it was reported that lawmakers from the extreme nationalist party Ataka have, somehow, managed to sneak out unnoticed.

Earlier, MPs from the opposition party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, officially left the Tuesday sitting in outrage from reports police was acting violently towards protesters. They, however, remain inside the building.

Students at 15 universities across the country are have occupied campuses and prevented teaching in protest at the center-left coalition.

The first of the protests began when students at the elite Sofia University occupied Lecture Hall 272, the largest teaching room in the St. Kliment Ohridski building on 23 October.

They have been blockading the building since then, bringing classes to a halt, but decided to move the blockade to the Parliament on Tuesday.

On Sunday, thousands marched in the streets of Bulgarian capital Sofia to request Oresharski's resignation.

Protesters chose the symbolic date November 10 to show their exasperation at the lack of morality in Bulgarian politics, 24 years after the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria.

Sunday was the 150th day since protesters against the Oresharski cabinet first walked out, June 14, after the appointment of controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski for head of Bulgaria's State Agency for National Security.

Peevski's reinstatement as MP after his resignation from the Security Agency provoked a student occupation at Sofia University, which culminated in Sunday's "March of Justice."

Protesters have claimed that the Oresharski cabinet, backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms exemplifies in an acute form the deep influence of the so-called Bulgarian oligarchy on politics.

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Tags: parliament, Sofia University, Socialist-led government, anti-government protests, Hristo Biserov, DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, GERB, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, Delyan Peevski, DANS, State Agency for National Security, Ataka, nationalist, nationalists, riot police, clashes, Plamen Oresharski, occupation, blockade, protests, Socialist-led government, Sofia University, parliament, arrested
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