Bulgaria: New anti-Roma protests, State Security Council convened
Yesterday approximately 2 000 people participated in another anti-Roma demonstration in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Adherents of ultra-right groups in Bulgaria protested against alleged "Romani impunity" and called for more severe punishments to be applied to Romani perpetrators, the Deutsche-Presse Agentur (DPA) reports.
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov convened the State Security Council over the ethnic tensions in the country yesterday. Speaking after the meeting, the president promised stricter monitoring of persons who get rich suspiciously quick and stricter punishments for those inciting ethnic intolerance.
The Security Council meeting took place at the President's office. Not far from there, adherents of the radical Bulgarian Party Ataka ("Attack") demonstrated against alleged "Romani impunity" and demanded more effective measures against what they called "Romani crime", including reintroduction of the death penalty. DPA reports that a massive police presence prevented any incidents.
More than 1 000 adherents of the Bulgarian National Union (BNU) marched through the center of Sofia protesting against alleged "Romani terror" and the "social parasitism" of the Romani minority, DPA reports. Reuters reports the demonstrators sang the national anthem and young promoters of the BNU protested against what they called "treacherous tolerance" of the Roma, demanding the cabinet immediately establish a law-and-order government.
Anti-Roma protests were unleashed a week ago in Bulgaria after a car accident during which a minivan driven by a Romani man in the small southern town of Katunitsa ran over and killed an ethnic Bulgarian boy. The driver is allegedly close to the self-appointed, so-called Romani King, "Czar Kiro", who was arrested last Wednesday on suspicion of tax fraud in the amount of roughly CZK 74 million.
Those participating in yesterday's protests claim that "Romani crime" goes unpunished. Bulgarian President Parvanov, speaking after yesterday's State Security Council meeting, promised extensive monitoring of all in Bulgaria who get rich illegally and said the authorities would proceed more robustly against everyone charged with crimes. "Criminals must be sent where they belong," the President emphasized. The police presence in smaller villages is also to be reinforced.
Yesterday adherents of yet another extremist group, the "Organization of the Domestic Macedonian Revolution", collected signatures on a petition in front of the Bulgarian Parliament calling for the state to do more to address the tensions with the Romani minority. The group also criticized the authorities' inactivity with respect to addressing so-called "Romani crime".
Ever since last weekend, anti-Roma, racist demonstrations, most of them convened through the internet, have been held every evening in Sofia and other large Bulgarian cities. The first such demonstrations were considerably unrestrained. Groups of right-wing radicals and football hooligans took advantage of the gatherings to brawl with police.