What happened in Sofia on 23rd-24th July 2013

I see this now, in the end of 2015 – a draft that I was afraid to share beforehand and it remained unpublished and forgotten for more than a year and a half. Probably the footage worths it; the rest is something I probably planned to extend at the time. Anyway, this is from the so-called “white bus” night – anti-gov protests in Sofia, Bulgaria.

What happened in the heart of Sofia in the night of 23rd of July 3013 and in the morning of 24th?
I guess there are as many answers as the number of the people on the Alexander Nevski square that night, combined with those that were following the events on the news. But, I read various news from external sources, and some of them seemed more or less belittling to what is going on in Bulgaria in the moment. In my opinion, New York Times describe it in the best way, amongst the English language articles that I read, Seuddeutche amongst the German. And here comes my story.

Introduction

For 43 days now, tens of thousands of people are protesting on the streets of Sofia, asking for the resignation of the oligarchic government lead by the socialist party. In fact, this government was elected two months ago and I think it broke a world record for being immediately asked to leave, after a series of scandalous position assignments and openly ungrounded decisions.

Morning protests in font of the Bulgarian Parliament building: even before they go to work, people came to furiously shout at the scandalous government
Morning protests in font of the Bulgarian Parliament building: even before they go to work, people came to furiously shout at the scandalously weak government

Tens of thousands of mostly young and educated people shout “OSTAVKA!”, which means “Resignation!”, and also “Mafia”, which is practically the definition of the ones inside the parliament. How did they win the elections? God knows. With bought votes, changed bulletins, fake bulletins, and huge media propaganda. And also with one exceptional trick – a coalition between socialists, ethnic Turkish party(which is anti-constitutional) and also nationalists party(which was out of any discussion to unite with the Turkish party). Dirty, huh.

But Bulgaria finally woke up. As peaceful and patient as we are, we are now on the streets. Expensive, educated people spend hours on a daily basis to protest. “We are clear the patience of the people is over” claimed the leader of the socialist party. Really?

23rd of July

After 40 days of peaceful protests and numerous warnings that the protest will take other forms, the tension escalated and in the night of 23rd of July over 100 deputies and 3 ministers were blocked in the parliament. The people refused to let them out. And the message was clear: the contract between the government and the tax payers was preliminary terminated.

People build barricades with trash cans and open them as a symbol of the “red rubbish” slogan aimed at the socialists.

Tension was rising. And I was simply going home and passed by the actions. I friend of mine called just then.

– Where are you? Are you OK? Are you arrested? 😉
– Hahaha. No, why, I drink coffee with a friend.
– On TV they said there are injured people around the Parliament. Something is going on there, the police beats people. There are blocked deputies…
– The deputies are still there?!
– Yes, there are still inside.
– Interesting. Are you going?
– No, and you’d better not go.
– Sure. Bye.

But, I could not resist it when I reached the Nevski square. People were blocking the whole square. Armed police held shields and pushed them. A white bus was stuck on the back of the temple. People were screaming shouting with hands up (hoping the policemen won’t beat them). Then they were singing the national anthem… The tension rising again.

And a few seconds after – people running to block the other side of the blockades, where fewer protesters had remained. Mission completed – the crowd reorganized in few minutes and blocked the front side of the Parliament. In fact, the deputies remained occupied for more than 5 more hours.

The government was expected to resign. 40 days of mass protests, escalation of tension, blood on the Alexander Nevski square… And the prime minister claimed “I don’t see why I should resign.” Massive media manipulations, fake provocateurs, people blamed in hooliganism and with charges, arrests for no reason.

So, follow the hash tag #ДАНСwithme and include Bulgaria in your prayers.

Finally, something touching I will always remember – an act of brevity and support by the French band Mass Hysteria.

And we are back here, in Sofia, a few months later, and protests seem to start again. This time the focus is our judicial system.

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