Protesters Renew Demand for Resignation of Bulgaria's Culture Minister
Following demonstrations last week, a new protest demanded the resignation of Bulgarian Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov on Monday.
The protesters are discontent with the policies of the minister and accuse him of exerting political pressure on journalists and artists.
They call on Rashidov to step down due to the controversial dismissals of two employees at the National Art Gallery and the minister's harsh attitude to a journalist from Bulgaria's public broadcaster after all three of them had expressed criticism to his policies, in particular the new legislation on cultural heritage.
Last week, more than a hundred journalists and artists, signed an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov calling on him to immediately dismiss the minister.
The scandal erupted when Rashidov sent a letter to the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), in which he advised the host of a popular morning cultural programme, Georgi Angelov, to stop making fun of the state all the time as his salary depends on the very thing he is ridiculing.
This was interpeted as attempt for censorship, with the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria demanding his immediate resignation.
Although Rashidov apologised for his emotional reaction and dismissed any attempts for censorship, two protests took place in front of the building of the culture ministry at the end of last week.
He also denied having anything to do with the dismissals of Vladimir Rumenov and Mariya Vasileva, employees at the National Art Gallery and critics of his policies, who had been fired shortly after their appearances in programmes broadcasted by BNT.
The director of the gallery also denied the dismissals had anything to do with their participation in the television programmes.
Rashidov had even asked for Rumenov to be restored to his position and this occurred on Monday.
Meanwhile, several artists have expressed their support for the minister over the weekend. On Monday, the director of the National History Museum, Bozhidar Dimitrov, also backed Rashidov.
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