Bulgaria Protests, Arman Babikyan: In Poison Trio, We Have the Confidence to Be in Politics! The Square is the Alternative to Impudent Power
Stefan MARKOV, Novinite.bg
PR specialist, public figure and political analyst Arman Babikyan has been among the most often mentioned persons recently. There is no other way, since the Varna resident is among the leaders of the protests against the cabinet of Boyko Borissov, Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev and the designated puppeteers of a parallel state - Ahmed Dogan and Delyan Peevski, as well as the vicious system suffocating Bulgaria.
Babikyan is a member of the so-called "Poison Trio", which has been tirelessly giving courage, ideas and energy to the protesters for 70 days. It should be noted that his position against those in power in our country, long before these 70 days, is clear and unequivocal. He has been criticizing the government for a long time, and his voice is heard clearly - previously covered only in some media, and now in a more deafening waz - at the square under the windows of power. Arman Babikyan's opinion is certainly interesting for everyone, and his words are being closely monitored. That is why Novinite.bg asked him for an interview, and he, despite his busy schedule, responded.
Mr. Babikyan, you wrote in the social networks that you feel sorry for the man Boyko Borissov, who is voiceless and cannot make a decision on his own. That he thinks he's in power, but he's not. Who is his puppeteer?
It is obvious to everyone that in such situations, Borissov acts differently. We have already seen him - he resigned three times when there was a problem with his reputation or good acceptance by society. Today it is just the opposite - he is at the bottom of his popularity and yet, fighting tooth and nail, he stands in power. It is logical to conclude that there are also other hidden factors that urge him to make such a decision. A quorum at the National Assembly is supported by the MRF - this is also obvious to everyone. It is clear that the influence of Delyan Peevski and similar business interests prevail over the desire of 65% of Bulgarian society for change in governance.
The protests have been going on for more than two months now, and yet the ruling party and the Chief Prosecutor persevere. What needs to happen for them to resign?
In those two months, the plug of fear was unleashed and the government lost one of its main resources - coercion and fear of punishment. Many ministerial posts were taken, including that of Vladislav Goranov, the Minister of Justice, etc., in an attempt to calm and ease public tensions. Hundreds of millions were distributed so that the social motivation of the protesters could be "fed" and thus blunted. None of these actions of the government succeeded. On the contrary, the protests escalated, leading to dozens of critical articles in the most authoritative American and Western European media. The face of power was disclosed in front of all of Borissov's partners, especially the EU and NATO countries. The international reputation of this type of authoritarian rule is sinking. The so-called "stagnation" of power is an illusory notion of governance. Boyko Borissov will never be Bulgaria's prime minister again. The question is no longer whether, but when, de jure, this crisis will end. He can't explain it to himself how three people jumped out of public life and raised this discontent, something which no opposition party could do. I guess in time I will get an answer to this question.
The Poison Trio often sheds light on protests by Bulgarians around the globe. What does the fact that there are people dissatisfied with the situation in our country in Australia, Canada, Mozambique and elsewhere mean?
Yes, there are protests by Bulgarians on five continents, because in most cases they are free and live in democratically governed countries. They are well aware of what true democracy looks like. Most of them have relatives, friends and do not want such a life for them in Bulgaria. Many of them have fled because they have not found a fair way of development here and have sought their happiness elsewhere, but they still love Bulgaria. Their electoral capabilities were often questioned, along with various changes that made it difficult for them to exercise their right to vote. Bulgaria is everywhere where there are Bulgarians. This does not seem to be clear only to the authoritarian rule of Borissov and his allies. We live in a mobile and modern world, but everyone feels attached to their homeland in a special way. Bulgarians, even with their migration, prove what their idea of good life is. They do not travel to North Korea to settle there. Not to Belarus, but to Western Europe and the United States. There is a certain expression and if we reformulate it, it will sound like this: millions of Bulgarians voted "with their feet".
In fact, the name Poison Trio may have been invented by Sasho Dikov?
Yes, about 4 years ago he decided to stick this label on us because he thought that with our comments, we were too sharply "poisoning" the power of the dictator. Despite its unpleasant nuance, this label remained, but Sasho Dikov can easily be considered the godfather of the Trio.
Do you, Nikolay Hadjigenov or Velislav Minekov, have political ambitions? In other words - do you have the confidence that you can offer a quality new alternative, because the question of who will come after the current ones is often asked…
We are actually doing politics. Even planting a tree means doing politics. This is eco politics. When you want to overthrow a greedy and corrupt government, this is politics. Even currently we are doing politics, and I do not see why we should not have self-confidence, compared to firefighters, party secretaries of the Bulgarian Communist Party, ministers gathered at gas stations and a number of other cadres of today's government. The square and the protest are the alternative to today's government. Power comes from citizens, not the other way around. About 400 people spoke on the rostrum of the rally - professors of medicine, scientists from BAS and Sofia University, respected lawyers, financiers, wonderful Bulgarian students, graduates of prestigious universities. I can’t list all of them, but there are literate and conscientious Bulgarians and it is a lie that no one will take over the alternative and the government of Bulgaria. All these people should be attracted with their potential for governing the country. This is the real alternative. The three of us have never been indifferent observers, but the day has come when we must take to the streets, and so, if necessary, we will create a rye to beat through the hands of anyone who forgets who they are and decides to rule the way we see those in power today.
Your son, Hago, has also been part in the street riots since their inception. What does it cost a young man like him to abandon his private and professional life in order to push for a change and a better future?
Everyone is on the street. I am glad that I brought him up well, because the civil protest is a kind of upbringing for the next generations as well. Being a citizen is rarely taught at school, but protest gives confidence to anyone who wants to be free and willing to assert their rights. I can't answer for him - he's been an adult too long and too literate and can answer for himself.
Krassimir Karakachanov named specific amounts that, according to him, are paid to the protesters - he started from BGN 30 for "spectators" and reached BGN 500 for "leaders of groups of 10 people"… What have you bought with what you have earned so far?
Mr. Karakachanov will have to answer for his words in court, and as soon as possible I would buy him a BILLA bag to dump his lies inside. The current question is the opposite, because he has our common money and it is logical to answer what he did with the public resource within his mandate. It is a pity when a ruler explains to the people the disgust of his own government with money. This means that he lives with the confidence that he is wonderful, perfect and infallible by birth. When someone explains everything with money, it shows a mentality. However, I am convinced that there are better specialists to deal with Mr. Karakachanov's psychoanalysis.
Is there any danger that the protesters will get tired or disillusioned by the fact that their demands remain a voice in the desert for now?
The protesters are adamant because they have endured 11 years of this rule and are obviously willing to sacrifice efforts and kick these people out of power. At the same time, the allied partners in power are losing support every day, and if they do not take immediate action, the elections will be disastrous. They are the ones who choose fast or slow and painful political withdrawal.
The pacifism you preach is praised from the protest rostrum. But is there a bloodless revolution and what are your plans for the future?
In the civilized European countries in which Borissov claims we live, he should have resigned long ago and set a course for early elections. On the contrary, we hear all day fables about the president, insults to the three of us and the protesting citizens, jokes about payment, police violence, confiscated loudspeakers, beaten students, detainees and silence on the questions we ask about large-scale corrupt practices. We, unlike Borissov, are Europeans and will continue our protests. Revolution is another concept with a Bolshevik flavour, which he studied during his membership in the Bulgarian Communist Party. He apparently remembered that power was taken with blood and given with blood, because he made the square bleed on September 2, without detaining any of the provocateurs in the most video surveyed area in the country. This is a proof of his mentality, not our ways of protesting.
How would you comment on the internal riots and petty bickering between some of the protesters and their leaders in particular?
There are no quarrels in the Poison Trio. The vast majority of citizens know why they are at the square and know perfectly well what they want. We have no right and do not interfere in the internal affairs of the parties.
There will be a Great People's Uprising - third edition, what will happen there?
We have already announced it for September 22, which we believe is a day when we must once again fight for our independence, and not just celebrate it. Because today we are dependent on the mafia and the oligarchy, not on the will of the people.
Resignations of Borissov and Geshev, Dogan and Peevski - out of the power levers behind the scenes and electronic voting. Are these the most important demands or is there anything else fundamental without which the square will not be emptied?
There are many reforms that Bulgaria needs, but these are the first obstacles that need to be overcome in order to move forward. Bulgaria is the poorest in Europe, with the highest mortality rate, with an outdated administration, with a huge share of corruption, poor technological development, with many functionally illiterate people and a sick population. It is difficult to list all the problems, but in order to start solving them, the occupiers of power should first be removed.
How would you describe Boyko Borissov in 2 words and respectively Ivan Geshev, Dogan, Peevski, Rumen Radev, Hristo Ivanov?
I filled in lexicons as a child, today I don't think it's time for that. Everyone proves himself with their actions, not with their words. So give them the opportunity to show for themselves what they are made of and what they are not. History is the one to have the final word.
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