Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bulgarian Police Break Up Protesters’ Blockade of Parliament

Dan Bilefsky, Matthew Brunwasser, and Georgi Kantchev
New York Times

PARIS — The Bulgarian police ended a blockade of Parliament on Wednesday that had trapped about a hundred lawmakers and ministers inside the building for more than eight hours as protesters vented their frustration with poor governance and rampant corruption and called for the center-left government to step down.

Seized by a spirit of popular dissent that has recently galvanized people from the squares of Istanbul to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, thousands of mostly young and educated Bulgarians have demonstrated over the past 40 days in Sofia, the country’s capital, demanding better democracy and new elections in what had been largely peaceful rallies. 

But Marina Karakonova, a protester and freelance journalist, said the protesters had lost patience. “The gentleman’s agreement between protesters and police is broken,” she said. “There is no trust.” 

Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at a bus that the police were using to evacuate the officials early Wednesday, witnesses said. Protesters then used garbage cans to build barricades. 

Witnesses described an indiscriminate police response in an “unnecessary, poorly planned and provocative action,” according to a report by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights organization based in Sofia. It said dozens of people had been beaten or manhandled by officers. Reuters reported that 20 protesters were treat

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