Top Bulgarian Diplomat Apologizes for Self-Immolator Blunder
Outgoing Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, has apologized for confusing the name of the symbol of protests in his country at a Brussels event.
Speaking for the Bulgarian Trud (Labor) daily, Mladenov said it has been an unintentional lapse. He denied accusations the decision of the outgoing government to declare a national day of mourning was hypocritical.
Last Wednesday, on the day of national mourning in Bulgaria in commemoration of Varna man, Plamen Goranov, who passed away on March 3 after setting himself on fire, Mladenov called for a minute of silence in honor of "this brave Bulgarian, Plamen Georgiev."
"I wish to call for a minute of silence for Plamen Georgiev, a man who fought for democracy and freedom and tragically perished from his burns after setting himself on fire in Varna. Let's honor his memory," Mladenov has said addressing in English participants in the ceremony for the 70th anniversary of rescuing Bulgarian Jews from Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The ceremony was held in Brussels in the presence of Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, and a number of European politicians and reporters.
The news reached Bulgaria first through a video clip shot with the cell phone of rapper Misho Shamara, who was there as a person repressed by the outgoing government.
While Mladenov spoke, the rapper turned the phone towards him, saying "this was the greatest hypocrisy coming from people who killed Goranov," and then shouted "Hypocrites!" upon which security guards removed him from the hall.
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 in the evening and he succumbed to multiple organ failure, after being for several days on induced coma.
On the national day of mourning for Goranov silent vigils were held across Bulgaria.
In Varna, a mass attended by thousands was served in the Saint Petka Church. Goranov's remains were transported to the capital Sofia for cremation as this has been his father's wish.
The urn will be returned to Varna and will be placed in the city's central cemetery, but the exact date remains unknown.
On the same day, at the time of the mass, Varna Mayor, Kiril Yordanov resigned, but people in the city vow to continue protests rallies until all their demands are met.
As soon as the news about Goranov's 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 the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party GERB and elected on its ballot. He is said to have been serving TIM's interests. On Sunday, GERB revoked its endorsement.
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.
In the same interview Mladenov backed GERB's austerity measures and strict fiscal discipline as the only way to prevent hyperinflation.
He pledged that from now on, the "mechanism for doing politics in Bulgaria would change and would become closer to the contemporary European vision for democracy."
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