Protesters say the move was a sign of toxic links between the ruling elite and shady interests in the Balkan country. However weak their voice still is, it is nonetheless important to keep pushing for “social” solutions to corruption and mafia rule. July 15, 2020, 7:45 AM. Dimitar Bechev, a … According to a survey conducted before the protests by the agency Sova, Borisov's GERB leads in the polls and would obtain 21.3% of the vote, BSP 12%, MRF 5%, and Democratic Bulgaria 2.4%. want to break Bulgaria.” The Bulgarian Socialist Party began a no-confidence vote in the government, citing 25 corruption scandals that have occurred since 2017; it failed and Borissov’s government stood. Bulgaria is gripped in a political crisis, its biggest since 2013 , when sustained protests against corruption brought down a center-left government. He tried to redirect public attention to his proposed “new constitution” and the firing of the Finance, Economics, Tourism, and Internal Affairs Ministers. The arrest was unsuccessful and Bozhkov managed to escape to the United Arab Emirates. The next day, Radev’s advisor was arrested for “conflict of interests” allegedly, but most likely an attempt to intimidate the President. The prime minister did not deny the authenticity of the pictures but claimed the money was planted. After that, it was made public that a shady businessman and ex-politician, Ahmen Doğan had stolen land from the state and even had State Defense Services guarding the stolen land for him. In the evening, however, some protesters thought to be paid provocateurs, started throwing small fireworks at the police, which eventually provoked a violent response, as officers launched into the crowd, beating people with batons and using tear gas and water cannon. In early July 2020, Ivanov tried to access a Black Sea beach that Ahmed Dogan, founder of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), had illegally incorporated into his palatial summer home. Then, the Anti-Corruption Fund, an NGO documenting and investigating high-level corruption, released a documentary about an insidious scheme for stealing high-profile businesses with the help of the judiciary. And the largest street protests in seven years. The power of the oligarchy needs to be undercut not only “from above”, ie via more stringent criminal and anti-corruption legislation, but also from “below”, from the foundations. Following that, a recording was received showing Borissov saying “we need to hit that businessman and smash his face in because he does not respect me”, which was confirmed to be real by an American laboratory. In response to the demonstrations, a … Table of ContentsPrefaceProtestsPreface At the beginning of 2020, Bulgaria appointed a new Prosecutor General, Ivan Geshev, an official viewed very unfavorably even before his appointment. The motion of no confidence in Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government, tabled by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party on the grounds of failures against corruption, was defeated in a National Assembly vote on July 21. The early summer was also marked by thunderous reshuffling within the ranks of the ruling oligarchy and businessmen close to them, leading to the fall from grace of Vassil Bozhkov, one of the richest gambling, tourism and construction bosses in Bulgaria, followed by a full-blown turf war which spilled over into the public sphere in the shape of leaks. Then a series of scandals revealed corrupt schemes involving lucrative property along the Black Sea coast. Bulgaria’s prime minister reshuffled his cabinet to soothe an ongoing political crisis as he faces a no-confidence motion over graft accusations and protests urging him to resign. At the beginning of 2020, Bulgaria appointed a new Prosecutor General, Ivan Geshev, an official viewed very unfavorably even before his appointment. Bulgaria is gripped by its biggest political crisis since 2013, when anticorruption protests brought down a center-left government. Police violence began almost immediately, and Borissov defended the case of a beaten university student by saying that their grandfather was a communist. This is quite unprecedented given that liberals and the left have always defined themselves in vitriolic mutual opposition to each other, but it seems that GERB and their junior coalition partners from the far right achieved the unachievable – uniting literally everybody against them. It also removed constitutional guarantees for the equality between men and women replacing them with pro-natalist and “family values” paragraphs. Ivanov and his crew were brutally pushed back by security guards who refused to reveal if they work for the National Security Service (NSS), a government agency tasked with providing personal security to senior politicians and state functionaries. Riot police and anti-government protesters faced off outside parliament with both sides suffering injuries. The protests in Bulgaria demanding the resignation of the government and of the Prosecutor-General are set to enter a new phase, as a group of organisers seek to recruit people for a national strike, Bulgarian National Radio said on July 19. Despite the liberal views professed by its organisers, the protest attracted people from across the political spectrum, including President Radev’s supporters from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), BSP splinters, the extra-parliamentary and the radical left, not to mention apolitical hipsters, artists and even turbo-folk singers. But the violent change of positions within the ruling elite and the elimination of competitors erodes the state. Protests in several Bulgarian towns on Thursday condemned amendments to the Biodiversity Act, which they say will potentially harm protected zones, delay protective measures and … For two months, Bulgarians have protested against a scandal-ridden government which refuses to resign. In effect, Borisov’s constitutional exercise aimed at buying him time in power. So what led to these dramatic events and what is next for the Bulgarian protest movement? Protests.media has increased publishing of articles from ~2-3 articles per day to ~5-6 articles per day. In two nerve-racking weeks of negotiations, Borisov’s proposal finally gathered 122 signatures by the September 2 deadline, with the help of the populist party of fuel and pharmacy tycoon Veselin Mareshki. September 3, 2020, 11:01 PM • 2 min read. Bulgaria looks set for a series of large-scale anti-government protests, highlighting the political crisis in the country and the numerous conflicts between the main figures on the scene. Then came the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s abysmal handling of the situation, which saw doctors resigning due to the lack of protective gear and inadequate emergency measures in place. Updated 4:18 PM ET, Wed July 15, 2020 . Despite the boost the liberal coalition of Hristo Ivanov got from the protests, it is unlikely that the party will solve this problem within the narrow legalistic reform framework it proposes (judicial reform and depoliticisation of the general prosecution). Since the beginning of 2020, a series of localised crises and scandals built up tension in the public sphere and led to an explosive protest wave against GERB’s almost uninterrupted 10-year rule. Soon after taking up his role, Geshev attempted the arrest of the richest man in Bulgaria for tax evasion, Vasil Bozhkov. This angered the Bulgarian public, which has been reeling over the reckless overdevelopment of the Black Sea coast for years. So what led to these dramatic events and what is next for the Bulgarian protest movement? People protesting in Sofia, in front of St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral carrying national flags and demanding PM's resignation. For more than 100 days, thousands of Bulgarians have been coming together in the streets to demand the resignations of Boyko Borissov’s third government and General … The following day it was revealed that a company linked to Mareshki clinched a lucrative 20-year beach concession. The protests voiced three main demands: the resignation of the ruling coalition and the chief prosecutor, early elections and then judicial reform through constitutional amendments. News Bulgaria riots: Police, anti-government protesters clash in Sofia. The PG had a record of stating his opposition to the separation of powers in the government between legislative, executive, and judicial. He also claimed that the GERB government had accepted a new law on gambling in exchange for Bozhkov giving 20% of his profits personally to the PM. Money is power and the more wealth one accumulates privately, the greater its gravity, warping and bending the public sphere and the political life to the benefit of its owners. Over the past four days, Bulgaria … Borisov tied his resignation to the constitutional amendments, explaining that if the party does not manage to collect the signatures of 50 percent of the MPs (or 120 people) by September 2 – the minimum quota required for the Parliament to begin discussing the draft – he will resign. On September 2, the two-month-long anti-governmental protests in Bulgaria entered the most violent stage to date. In a sleight of hand, the governing party changed the order of the demands and in August stunned everybody by declaring they have drafted a new constitution to fulfil the demand for change. The winter was marked by a water crisis caused by the drying up of several dams, the most serious of which took place in the town of Pernik, 45km southwest of Sofia. The President, Rumen Radev, criticized the government for the land theft and demanded an explanation on what was found in Borissov’s bedroom. It was a year unlike any other, and it was also an election year. We run no advertising and have no sponsors, and are therefore entirely funded by our readers. Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by David Clarke and Leslie Adler A protester holds a poster in front of the German Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. The unrest began when a former justice minister, Hristo Ivanov, and two other people sailed to a beach near the Black Sea port of Burgas and tried to plant a Bulgarian flag. The chief prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, whom the opposition has accused of aiding and abetting corruption by refusing to press charges against politicians and businessmen, reacted immediately by ordering a raid on the presidency, in blatant violation of all constitutionally sanctioned immunity guarantees and separation of powers. The explanations police chiefs later gave about this unheard-of deployment of police force caused an outcry and fuelled conspiracy narratives that the police had let the provocateurs off the hook to have an excuse to attack the protesters. In Bulgaria, anti-government protests have flared up again as coronavirus cases continue to rise. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. The largest anti-government protests in the history of Belarus, the demonstrations began in the lead-up to and during the 2020 presidential election, in which Lukashenko sought his sixth term in office. ... Barzachka, looked at why officeholders ignore peaceful demonstrations by comparing five major protests in Bulgaria … Either a special clinical path or National Program for Post-Covid Patients with Complications start in Bulgaria from February 8. The following day the embattled government used the clashes as an excuse to stop negotiating its exit from power. 2020 was and still is an eventful year - pandemic, protests, orange men, you name it. The skirmish caused an outcry, augmented by the intervention of the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev who confirmed that the security guards are indeed employees of the NSS and were appointed in violation of their mandate. Jana Tsoneva is a Sofia-based sociologist and a founding member of KOI: an engaged research NGO and publishing house. 12 Jul 2020. Nina S. Barzachka, Stefka P. Yordanova 12/17/2020. For the vote to have succeeded, 121 MPs out of the total 240 would have had to vote in favour. Demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest in Sofia, Bulgaria on Saturday [Reuters/Stoyan Nenov] By Mariya Petkova. After the arrest of his advisor, protests began on the 9th of July, demanding the resignation of the government and the chief prosecutor. This would mean resigning after attacks by criminals.”. Biden/Harris celebrations. The 2020–2021 Belarusian protests are a series of ongoing political demonstrations and protests against the Belarusian government and President Alexander Lukashenko. Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email this article. Bulgaria also needs а more robust welfare state that can make working people less dependent on the oligarchs for their livelihood. © 2021 Protests.media – All rights reserved, Powered by  – Designed with the Customizr theme. The failure of the arrest only contributed to Geshev’s unpopularity with the Bulgarian people. The most notable case was of the Aleppu beach where a landslide cleared the ground for a luxury hotel right on the beach, which the authorities claimed was merely a “fortification wall”. The first day of the protests in Bulgaria July 9th 2020. At the beginning of 2020, Bulgaria appointed a new Prosecutor General, Ivan Geshev, an official viewed very unfavorably even before his appointment. For the first time, the police deployed water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray, marking the end of the relatively peaceful phase in protesting that made Bulgaria such an outlier in Europe in this regard. On one of the biggest nights of protest, he went live on Facebook to say, “I will not resign because ‘they’ (who?) There has been a stagnation of protests since late September, and the government will probably be voted out in March. The Bulgarian elite is deeply divided and warring factions wield their power over the state as a weapon against their competitors. Without the notion of social justice to supplement the liberal ideas about rule of law and judicial reform, the lofty calls for justice animating the protest stand a lesser chance of resonating with the majority of the Bulgarian population, whose main concern is socioeconomic survival. October 28, 2020 - Radosveta Vassileva - Articles and Commentary. The PG had a record... Protests.media is a decentralized news collective of researchers that seek to document mass movements from a peoples’ perspective, compared to inherently biased corporate and state media. The war against corruption must also be a battle over definitions. (Hristo Rusev / Getty Images) Our new issue, “Biden Our Time,” will be out soon. Bozhkov revealed corruption schemes, lobbyist laws and shady deals that he made with the Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov. Photo: KGG1951 (cc) wikimedia.org In my article ‘Bulgaria: will Borissov’s government survive this summer?’, I raised awareness of a series of corruption scandals which shook Bulgaria in 2020 and raised the eyebrows of Bulgarian civil society. It became clear that the constitution was just a timewaster, and the Minister of Law resigned shortly after. Protesters shout slogans and wave Bulgarian national flags during an anti-government protest in Sofia on July 11, 2020. A photo was also discovered of Borissov in his bedroom which was confirmed to be real by independent groups. Bulgaria's Socialist Party has brought a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s center-right government. Therefore, their power must be undercut by economic reforms, too, such as the long overdue abolition of the flat tax regime put in place by a BSP-DPS government in 2008, which funnels money from the bottom to the top, concentrating economic power in the hands of a few business circles. Dozens of people were detained and hurt in Bulgaria as protests against Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government erupted in violent clashes with police. SOFIA, BULGARIA - Thousands of Bulgarians gathered for a … By The Associated Press. Half a year of political scandals. The following day, on July 9, the first mass protest took place in Sofia. The PG had a record of stating his opposition to the separation of powers in the government between legislative, executive, and judicial. Dozens Gather in St. Paul to March Against Fascism in Protest-Response Training Center, Protesters in Ft. 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The constitutional draft was full of mistakes, grammatical as well as technical; it envisioned some worrying changes, perceived as attempts to entrench the governing party’s hold on power, such as reducing the number of MPs. Since the beginning of 2020… People participate in an anti-government protest organized by supporters of the Vazrazhdane (Revival) party, in front of the parliament in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 14, 2020. People gathered at antigovernment protest near the National Assembly building on September 22, 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Some 100 people were arrested, many were badly beaten, including at least one journalist who produced his press card but was not spared from the police violence. How the pandemic endorsed leftist politics, Pakistan would give Kashmiris ‘right to independence’, ‘India should not offer COVID vaccine to Saudi Arabia’, Russia expels diplomats as tensions rise over Navalny protests, UN calls for Bangladesh army probe after Al Jazeera investigation, Al Jazeera Centre for Public Liberties & Human Rights. As Member of Parliament Toma Bikov from the ruling GERB party put it on September 3, “after [the events of] yesterday, we can no longer discuss the resignation of the government. The water shortage happened due to lack of maintenance of vital infrastructure and government leniency towards large industries abusing local water reserves. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Bozhkov decided to counterattack the government, which has also been key for the appointment of that Prosecutor General and has him function like a politician rather than a part of the prosecution. In July 2020, Hristo Ivanov, co-leader of the liberal coalition “Democratic Bulgaria” and judicial reform activist, transformed the intra-elite war into a “civil war” of sorts by disembarking on the illegally enclosed beach, surrounding the seafront mansion of Ahmed Dogan, the honorary leader of the liberal Movement for Rights and Liberties (DPS), which claims to represent the ethnic minorities in Bulgaria but is widely known as one of the most corrupt parties. This infuriated the protesters and on September 2, the largest crowds since the beginning of the crisis gathered in central Sofia. The … The President was already at odds with the government, as he beat the candidate that the government supported by a landslide in the 2016 elections. In early 2020, when little was known about the virus and it seemed like a localized problem, the protest surge that had marked the second half of 2019 continued. It is increasingly time-consuming to do so, and donations would be very appreciated. These events put the habitual understanding of the state as a neutral arbiter to the test. Huge demonstrations kept roiling politics in places as diverse as Chile, Hong Kong, and Lebanon, and new, shorter protests—like those over the downing of an airliner in Iran —erupted regularly. The cooperation allegedly broke when the Prime Minister decided to take the entire business, claims the tycoon. As Nov. 3 … Several hundred anti-government protesters gathered in … Candid photographs of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov sleeping in his bedroom next to a drawer packed full of 500-euro bills, gold bars and a gun were leaked to the media. The Barricade talks to one of the preferred commentators of the 2020 protests in Bulgaria in the internatinal press The Barricade’s Boyan Stanislavski made an intreview with Jana Tsoneva – one of the leading commentors on the Bulgarian protests in the international press. That is why it is great news that left-wing forces are also part of the protest. These intra-class clashes sometimes spill over from the “backroom” and reach us via the incessant stream of corruption scandals, leaked photos and recordings, surprise arrests of businessmen who fall out of favour, and even the nationalisation of private businesses. Bulgaria protests: what is to be known? Notwithstanding the vague promise of resignation, the protesters were infuriated. Photo: Circlephoto / Shutterstock. Oligarchs for their livelihood Aug. 12, 2020 would mean resigning after attacks criminals.... The test for years angered the Bulgarian public, which has been a stagnation of protests since late,. As Nov. 3 … Bulgaria protests: what is next for the equality between men and women replacing them pro-natalist... 2 min read Our readers Arab Emirates tax evasion, Vasil Bozhkov “ Biden Our Time, ” be! Of maintenance of vital infrastructure and government leniency towards large industries abusing water. 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