Thousands Rally Anew in Sofia, Plovdiv over Katunitsa Murder

Society | September 26, 2011, Monday // 19:40| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Thousands Rally Anew in Sofia, Plovdiv over Katunitsa Murder About a thousand protesters rallied in Sofia Monday night. Photo by BGNES

New rallies protesting against the murder of 19-year-old Angel Petrov in the village of Katunitsa were started in the Bulgarian capital Sofia and Plovdiv Sunday night.

The new rallies, which were organized on Facebook and started at 7 pm in both cities, come after on Sunday Plovdiv nearly became the center of ethnic clashes between ethnic Bulgarians and ethnic Roma over the weekend, following the murder in the nearby village of Katunitsa of 19-year-old Angel Petrov by associates of notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, committed Friday night.

The murder of Angel Petrov, who was deliberately run over by a mini-bus, according to witnesses, led to massive protests of the ethnic Bulgarians in the village of Katunitsa against Rashkov's Roma clan on Saturday, culminating Saturday night into the burning of Rashkov's properties by football hooligans from Plovdiv.

The tensions grew in Plovdiv on Sunday, the day of Petrov's funeral, when the police barely prevented clashes between a protest rally and local Roma in Roma-populated quarters Stolipinovo, Sheker Mahala, and Adzhisan Mahala.

About 1000 protesters, aged overwhelmingly between 18 and 30, are reported to have gathered at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia Monday night, setting out for the National Assembly square before the Parliament building. The participants decided to move because of a concert that was going on near the National Palace of Culture, and which was described as a "provocation" against their rally by one of the speakers.

The rally in Plovdiv was more massive, with some 2000-3000 people as it kicked off. Their gathering on the Unification square is heavily guarded by the police, Plovdiv24 reported.

Some of the protesters assaulted a cameraman of the bTV channel, breaking his camera, and leading him to get in a car in order to escape.

The protesters are angry at bTV and especially reporter Mirolyuba Benatova claiming that she favored the ethnic Roma in her coverage of the crisis in Katunitsa.

The agenda of the protesters remains largely unclear since in addition to demanding justice for the murder of 19-year-old Angel Petrov, suspicions remain that football hooligans and xenophobic groups might be involved in them.

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Tags: Plovdiv, sofia, clashes, ethnic clashes, ethnic violence, Roma, ethnic Turkish, ethnic Turks, Stolipinovo, Adzhasan Mahala, protesters, protest rallies, protest rally, Tsar Kiro, Kiril Rashkov, riot police, gendarmerie, Katunitsa, Angel Petrov, police, gendarmerie, football hooligans, far right, extremists
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