Bulgaria's Garmen Braces for Massive anti-Roma Protest
Security has been stepped up in the village of Garmen, southwestern Bulgaria, ahead of a protest against illegal buildings and settlers in a Roma neighborhood.
Anti-riot police have been deployed around the Kremikovtsi neighborhood to preserve the order as locals have held rallies every evening in the past few days, calling for an end for lawlessness there.
There was also a demonstration on Tuesday, but it ended peacefully with about a hundred participants blocking the road between the villages of Marchevo and Garmen.
Tensions grew high over the weekend as a fight broke on Saturday between Bulgarians and members of the Roma community.
Protesters, who maintain that the 124 buildings would be demolished and the Roma community should leave, earlier set out an ultimatum to local authorities, vowing to hold a large protest on June 2 unless their demands are heard.
Garmen has a population of about 1846 according to a 2015 census. Members of the ethnic Bulgarian majority claim to have been victims of robbery and assaults committed by Roma people.
The minority for its part says it is being discriminated against.
But Bulgaria's Regional Development Ministry urges for the buildings to be removed and insists local authorities should find another way to give shelter to inhabitants.
On Wednesday Bulgarian wire service BGNES revealed that the Roma neighborhood was build in the mid-2000s under an EU operational program managed by the State Fund Agriculture.
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