By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Daily anti-government protests in Bulgaria will reach their 100th day on September 21 and will be “global” on September 22, which the country celebrates as Independence Day.
Even though working life has resumed after the peak of the summer holidays, the numbers of protesters who turn out for the morning and evening events has dwindled, although protesters insist that they remain determined that the Bulgarian Socialist Party government that took office in May should resign.
On the 100th day of anti-government protests on September 21, protesters intend highlighting what they describe as the 100 mistakes made by the BSP government in its first 100 days.
Mass anti-government protests began after the BSP and its axis allies in the Movement for Rights and Freedoms rushed through Parliament the election of controversial figure Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security.
The Peevski appointment was withdrawn after tens of thousands of Bulgarians came to the streets in protest, and the government has insisted that it will not resign, even when polls show that more than half of Bulgarians want the current administration out and new elections held.
Recent contradictory statements from within the ruling axis about just who was behind the appointment of Peevski, then an MRF MP and also a member of a family with extensive media ownerships, have prompted anti-government protesters to take up the call “who?” in relation to the issue of the nomination of Peevski.
Plamen Oresharski, appointed in May to sit in the prime minister’s seat in the BSP government, gave the cabinet a “B” after the adoption of a report on the “achievements” of the administration in its first 100 days.
The government and the ruling parties also have sought to discredit the anti-government protests, including by alleging that protesters are paid. Among hostile media coverage was a recent article in Bulgarian-language Presa, which clumsily and unconvincingly attempted to portray as somehow sinister the fact that some NGO figures involved in the protest receive funding from Western foundations for their projects.
On television on September 20, the Institute for Public Environment Development’s Antoineta Tsoneva said that there was no evidence that people were paid to participate in the protests.
Tsoneva, who has been involved in the anti-government protests, said that the protest was not going away.
“This is the beginning of civil protest. The numbers do not matter. We have a clear message, which is apparently heard by many people. Physical presence or absence does not mean that people have changed their minds.”
Meanwhile, through social networks, global anti-government protests have been organised for Independence Day, September 22. Apart from the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Varna, there will be protests in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Budapest, Brussels, New York, Munich, Toronto, Montreal, Geneva and Freiburg.
On the Facebook page on which these protests were organised, a message was posted, “Friends, on September 22 1908, the independence of Bulgaria was proclaimed by manifesto. This was undoubtedly a proud and brave deed by our ancestors, one of the glorious moments in our history when we were really together and ready to earn our freedom. But today, 105 years later, we are neither free nor independent.
“Over Bulgaria hangs a shadow of a power that is corrupt and working against the interests of people. Let’s fill the streets wherever there are Bulgarians. And let’s show that we love freedom and will not leave it in anyone’s dirty hands,” the Facebook page said.