And again, in the Bulgarian public arena, that feverish “packing” of the protest begins – in the case against the BFS – at the end of which it always turns out that either nothing important happened, or that what happened was something shameful.
Bulgarians have long been known for such packaging of their own actions. Already in 1992, the English writer Julian Barnes published the book “The Porcupine”, in which he stated that the Bulgarians are the only people in Eastern Europe who do not proudly say “our anti-communist revolution of 1989/90”, but mention some “changes” with concern , happened unknown why and made unknown by whom.
From then until today, immediately after some bright protest – 1996/97, for example, or the unceasing “green” protests between 2007 and 2020 – a huge public effort is launched to make Bulgarians forget that they were protesting against any injustice.
What happened in Sofia?
And for me – from now on I must confess – Sofia becomes “my city” and a favorite place in the moments when, having walked through the center, I know that around the first corner I will hear hundreds and thousands of voices chanting “O-sta-vka! “. This is what a modern European capital sounds like at the moment of its peak achievement – civic mobilization.
During the protests against the BFS, I was not in Sofia and I do not have the personal observations that are indispensable in such cases. However, I have enough “street” experience to be able to navigate media reports.
What happened? Was what happened good or bad for the Bulgarian people? I tried to follow all the media and I was impressed by the protesters interviewed by the reporters in the troubled streets of Sofia. I am aware of the football hooligans – they have been trying to poison every “our” protest for years. But in this case, there were people walking through the streets with awake faces, apparently competently articulating in front of cameras and microphones.
Most spoke of a miscarriage of justice. And when protestors bring up this topic, it is a laudable civic effort caused by some blocked situation that needs to be uncorked so that things can be sorted out in a civilized way again.
The theme of justice is not only the basis of any normal state, but also of any normal society. Where there is no justice, people become “wild animals” (Aristotle) and there is no society. And where society exists and justice is violated, people react as citizens and rise up in rebellion.
Or, as the philosopher Adam Smith wrote in his most important book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments: “Man is so constituted…that every appearance of injustice…dismays him, and he rushes to prevent its spread, as it would put an end to everything he finds valuable. If he cannot stop its spread by moderate and mild measures, he will defeat (the injustice) by force and violence, so as to stop its spread at all costs.’ Subsequently, the philosopher John Locke adds that injustice must be “intolerable” – it is not good to break the cobblestones for every thing that seems wrong to you.
To rise up against an intolerable injustice is an act not of geeks, but of conscious citizens; and should be welcomed. In some civil societies – the French, the Greek – such uprisings are traditionally accompanied by the burning of police cars and the breaking of shop windows. In others – such as Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian and the like – arson and breaking are not part of the tradition. In our country there has been exceptionally one arson (of the Party House, set on fire from its eastern entrance by FC “Levski” campaigners in the 1990s) and one smashing of official cars (during the storming of the Parliament on January 10, 1997).
Don’t blur what happened
During the protest against the BFS, the Bulgarian tradition was broken: we saw both flames and broken glass. Bulgarian uprisings should not get used to this and this “fashion” should be stopped as quickly as possible. Otherwise, we are talking about a typical Bulgarian civil uprising against unbearable injustice, with some excesses due to the nature of the “ultras” involved.
Within days, most likely, the Bulgarian society will have chosen to believe in some more vague, unclear or sinister version of what happened. I hope, however, that we do not fall into the trap of such “packaging” again. We also have a precedent: more than three years have passed, and the Bulgarians still have not renounced the nationwide protests of 2020.
This comment expresses the personal opinion of the author and may not coincide with the positions of the Bulgarian editorial office and DV as a whole.
See also this DV photo gallery:
Anger on the streets of Bulgaria
What started as a “beach walk” turned into a mass protest. After the search in the presidency and the action in Rosenets Park, thousands of people took to the streets. They have been demanding the government’s resignation for days now.
“I want to live in Bulgaria”
Every night since Thursday, thousands protest against the government in Sofia.
The protests are taking place despite the risk of infection with the new coronavirus.
The most numerous protest
It is believed that the largest protest in the country so far took place on Sunday. Then people also protested in other cities of the country.
Before the Council of Ministers
Every day the protesters in Sofia gather in front of the Council of Ministers.
And Radev among the protesters
And President Rumen Radev was among the protesters. On the first day of the protests, he went out together with Vice President Iliana Yotova and joined the crowd. “We will get Bulgaria back! Shut up, out!” said Radev. On Saturday, he demanded the resignation of the government in an official address.
Photo: Getty Images/AFP/N. Doychinov
The Saturday “walking on the beach” to Rosenets
On Saturday, hundreds of people tried to reach the beach in Rosenets Park near Ahmed Dogan’s summer residence. Supporters of DPS had also gathered there. After several hours of tension and clashes with the police, the “beachgoers” still managed to reach the beach. The action “Walking on the beach” was organized on social networks.
Photo: DW/E. Milcheva
Protest also against the chief prosecutor
In Sofia, protesters against the government also demonstrate against the chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev. “The gesture has no future,” reads one of the posters.
Increased police presence
The protests in Sofia are taking place with an increased police presence.
On July 11, the protest was held under the motto “No to police violence and the provocation of the rulers”. The day before, there were multiple reports of police violence. Videos on social media show police officers brutally beating one of the protesters for minutes on end.
Is Bulgaria a fair country?
“I want to live in a just country,” reads the inscription on this poster.
“We’re here every day! X 10 to luck!” One thing is clear: Sunday’s protest was by no means the last.
This caption says a lot
“Let’s return justice to the state” – just one of the many posters at the protest in Sofia.
“My head is thick, you can break it all you want”
In the protests, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov saw a conspiracy between President Rumen Radev, DPS and “Yes, Bulgaria” to overthrow the government. In an extraordinary post on his Facebook profile, Borisov announced that he would not resign.