We witnessed an unprecedented pogrom in the center of Sofia, Minister of Internal Affairs Kalin Stoyanov said at a press conference. According to him, only the timely reaction of the Metropolitan Directorate of Internal Affairs (SDVR) and the Gendarmerie prevented this from causing casualties.
“That’s why I’m surprised at the request for my resignation, because thousands of employees of the Ministry of the Interior have done their job”Stoyanov said. He said that if he resigned, he would betray all his colleagues who were at work last night. I do not think that the minister should be a scapegoat for the long-standing problems in the Bulgarian Football Union, said Stoyanov.
He summarized the situation from last night. According to him, the actions that were taken by the SDVR and the Gendarmerie are reciprocal to the aggression on the part of extreme fans, whose goal was definitely to bleed the protest. The minister stands behind all the employees who last night, at the risk of their lives, prevented “something much more serious”. According to Stoyanov, riots, which in some European countries turned into mass ones, were quelled in just an hour. The minister stated that he does not accept the actions of units of employees who exceeded their rights and did not cope with the task of not succumbing to provocations. I and my colleagues do not tolerate such behavior, said Stoyanov. That is why, according to him, the director of the SDVR has already appointed an internal investigation into the case. We will not wait for the statutory deadlines, and at my insistence, the inspection will be carried out as a matter of urgency, said Stoyanov. He stated that anyone who exceeded his rights will bear his personal responsibility.
The minister thanked those police officers who helped the victims and apologized on behalf of the Ministry of Interior to those innocent, peaceful protesting people who suffered. He pointed out that more than once it was stated by the organizers that they wanted a peaceful protest. Before the protest itself, numerous meetings were held with the organizers, at which this was confirmed. Due to their categorical requests that they want to peacefully express their position towards the Bulgarian Football Union, and in order not to cause unnecessary panic, I stated yesterday that we do not expect provocations, explained Stoyanov.
He believes that the Ministry of Internal Affairs was prepared for any actions by the fans and that is why there were nearly 1,600 policemen in the center of Sofia. According to the minister, the provocateurs appeared later. According to the law, operational management is entrusted to the chief secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and with this I answer the question why the minister was not there, said Stoyanov. He added that he is part of the political leadership of the ministry and should not lead the operational interaction with field officers. Throughout the time, I have been in continuous contact with the chief secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and with the director of the Ministry of Defense, emphasized Minister Stoyanov.
When asked why he was not at the meeting of the Council of Ministers yesterday, the minister said that at the same time he was at a hearing in a parliamentary committee on Schengen issues. After that, he had a meeting at the Ministry of the Interior with the seven directors of the border divisions in the country about the migration situation. “I’ve never been to a pub or a disco”he said.
Regarding the movie screening last night, Stoyanov said that the Ministry of the Interior is a consultant for a film about telephone scams, which will be released in cinemas very soon. The film is “The Lessons of Goodness” and according to Stoyanov, the film will play a preventive role in this type of crime. This is an extremely serious problem for Bulgarian society, and my presence was for work purposes, not to have fun, said the minister. He stated that he was not with his phone switched off, but in constant communication with the Director of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“There is no tension between me and the prime minister”Minister Stoyanov said. He explained that in the morning conversation between him and Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov, he told him that “in my opinion and in the opinion of the leaders of the event, everything went normally”.
Regarding the dismissal of Deputy Minister Stoyan Temelakiev, the minister said that he still cannot explain this dismissal, as the political leadership by law does not have the right to carry out operational management in the field between services.
Lyubomir Nikolov, director of SDVR, reported that over 30 people from last night’s protests have criminal records. The perpetrator of the burning of the bus last night has been revealed, Nikolov informed. He said a total of six reports were filed regarding established cases where it could be alleged that police officers had physical contact with citizens at the protest. In shorter terms than one month, information will be given about the actions taken against them, the Ministry of the Interior said. From there they assured that all those detained since yesterday are still in the units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and procedural and investigative actions are being carried out with them.
Lyubomir Nikolov also announced that a protest has been announced for this evening at 6:00 p.m. in front of the headquarters of the Bulgarian Football Union, and the law enforcement authorities have taken measures to avoid tension.
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