Yakob Yakov, an activist in Bulgaria, and Jasmin Maerker report on the recent events in Bulgaria, which have seen thousands take part in mass protests
Thirty-five days after eruption of the protests in Bulgaria, massive crowds of people are still out in the streets and they are angrier than ever before. The protests were sparked off by the appointment of Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security, despite his known links with the mafia. However, his appointment reflects the general lack of transparency and corruption of the government as well as it’s failures to reduce organised crime. Just like most Balkan countries Bulgaria has suffered greatly from the transformation of a communist state into a capitalist system. The transition allowed new elites to obtain advantages for themselves through illegal markets and methods and gave rise to a predator economy ruled by Bulgarian oligarchs and mafia members.
Failures of the government to respond to the demands of the protesters have quickly lead to an uncompromising call for the resignation of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and his government.
As the BBC reported today, interior minister Tsvetlin Yovchev has stated that the demands of the protesters will not be met. However, even Yovchev himself believes something needs to be done to remedy the situation, as he fears the movement will become increasingly radicalized if the government continues to ignore their calls. His fears are well founded, as today’s protests have been lead off by the biggest mass blockade so far, shutting down business at the National Assembly since 8am this morning. Indeed, the government’s reaction to this blockade has not been able to calm the movement, but rather it has increased the tensions.
The websites of two independent Bulgarian news agencies offnews.bg and pik.bg were subject to online attacks this morning and are now inaccessible from abroad and within the country. The chief editors of OFFnews and PIK are convinced that the attack is a result of their continuous broadcast of the anti-government protests. According to OFFnews’s official statement on their Facebook page, a wave of attacks were launched simultaneously around 5am this morning from numerous IP addresses. The attacks came from a few million IPs with origins mostly from Canada but also involving many other countries and have been the most severe ever made towards Bulgarian sites.
The attacks are suspected to have been an orchestrated attempt to shut-down any news agency providing on the ground and accurate reports of the mass protests across Bulgaria with a positive tone towards those on the streets. Both news agencies have contacted Bulgarian authorities and are in connection with the hosts of the servers abroad, who have temporarily shut down the websites for protection. OFFnews and PIK were the only news agencies that maintained a continuous broadcast about the protests and presented a full and objective report about the protester’s demands. The peak of the protests today gives reason enough for the chief editors and protesters to assume that the attacks were an attempt for a media blackout, but the news will continue to be published on the station’s Facebook pages.
Currently the press is not allowed near the security zone of the parliament and videos showing four parliament members hitting a reporter are circulating around the net.
Government and protesters are both fearing escalation, but given today’s attack on freedom of press, the situation is unlikely to quieten down. After 35 days of protesting, almost two thirds of the population demand the resignation of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and his government. After 35 days out in the streets the people of Bulgaria are not willing to compromise and they will not give up.
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