“Stop Oligarchy” logo by @theplamen

What’s happening in Bulgaria?

protesters on the streets of Sofia need your support

If you had 24 years to change and refine a country’s policies, would you twist those to your benefit?

At first glance, beautiful Bulgaria has a lot of democracy going on — laws, elections, a parliament, a president, markets, EU membership, free will, the works, we have it. Look from the outside, and it’s clearly there. The inside of this strange hologram, though, feels very different, especially if you’re a Bulgarian.

Get the gist? I’ll bet you a fiver that you’re not getting the scale.

People are out in the streets, protesting. All major cities — Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas — six days and counting, tens of thousands of Bulgarians rallying for change, demanding that the incompetent “expert” government steps down, and that parliament is dissolved.

We demand our dignity back.

Protest outside the National Assembly
credit edit: frame originally from this video

Fat chance, says the Prime Minister.

General elections were just five weeks ago. Today, the majority of voters are no longer represented in Bulgaria’s worse-than-hung parliament. One quarter of voted candidates did not make the cut to begin with, the party with the most votes (thirty per cent) just announced they will no longer attend sessions; and another seven per cent of voters saw their party’s leader u-turn on all promises upon entering parliament. Sum: 62%.

Sound like injury? How’s this for an insult: last Friday, media mogul and MP with a shady past, Delyan Peevski, was appointed chief of Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security. That happened in a rush, without debate, and after re-tailoring the law to make him a suitable candidate. He was nominated, voted, and sworn in, in one afternoon.

ДАНС (say “dance”) is kind of like the NSA, only smaller. Yet, much like the NSA, they too can listen in on communications. Imagine what happens when the (top-level access clearance) head of agency is a politician?

Not to get carried away in allegations, here’s facts:

Delyan Peevski in Parliament

Peevski has considerable wealth. He was investigated for corruption in 2007, and there’s a 2002 photo of him hanging out with Iliya Pavlov - a wealthy “businessman,” who was shot with a sniper rifle a few months later that year. For the record, business people do not get sniped in Bulgaria.

Things are, to use a technical term, fucked up.

I wish I could tell you how many of these we’ve had over 24 years, and what it has done to the country. For those now out in the streets, that was merely the last straw. A wreck of an expert government, not hiding their ties to corruption and organised crime, two weeks after they were sworn in? No one is having that anymore.

“Citizens strike back”
by @directino

Peace in protests is a fragile thing. So far, the crowd has managed to keep an incredible cool (not quiet!). But one has to wonder for how long? All it takes is one person, paid to provoke the police and spark clashes. Yesterday the police detained nine people, knives and all.

Who needs another Gezi?

Help us! We’re trying our best to get people talking, and to get international news outlets to report in more detail on this. So far the BBC merely mentioneda crowd of protesters” (no real report though), we got a dry nod from Reuters, a brief article on Euronews, and one on Fox. It’s a start, right?

History says our politicians don’t listen, unless the world is watching.

And for all the protests, the world doesn’t seem to notice yet.

Beliefs are brittle in Bulgaria and they don’t hold for long.

What to do

If, like me, you feel strongly about this, then:

  • Tweet with #ДАНСwithme , share this post, help raise awareness.
  • Blog about it. Foreign opinions are awesome! They keep us going.
  • Criticise our government. They are monkeys and deserve it.
Just don’t look the other way, until Sofia is in flames.