Transnational solidarity of the European citizenry and involvement of the European Parliament are the only rays of hope for Bulgarian protesters that have been rallying in the streets every day since 28 May 2013. A representatives group of 10 people from a wide range of social movements in Bulgaria (to name a few, Bulgarian Protest Network, Occupy Bulgaria Movement, Early-Awakening Students, Solidarity) is visiting the European Parliament on 28 January 2014. With the support of European Alternatives the delegation is going to demand political commitment of MEPs to the exceedingly exacerbating situation of democracy and human rights in the country. Along with seeking a reaction to the misfortunate developments in Bulgaria, especially in light of the latest bitterly critical CVM Report by the European Commission dated 22 January 2014, the protesters aim to appeal to citizens Europe-wide. ‘We need the support of citizens of developed democracies, and we believe that transnational solidarity will produce strong enough pressure upon the Bulgarian institutions to reform: despite our continuous struggles in the streets of cities in Bulgaria, as well as the violent arrests of numerous innocent protesters, Peevski remains in power. Formally acting as a parliamentarian, he is the notorious emblem of an oligarchy that has the monopoly over the media, the decisions of the government, the parliament and to a great extent, the supreme stages of the judiciary. Entering the coalition of the European Initiative for Media Pluralism is welcomed by all social movements as the breakthrough solution to what we, by ourselves, have failed to change,’ admits Yvo Bojkov, an independent journalist and blogger, spokesperson of the Bulgarian protesters.
Following the meetings in the European Parliament, the protesters will meet European journalists at the Press conference Hall of the European Parliament at 14.00 CET on 28 January. MEPs Rui Tavares and Tanja Fajon will deliver their political pledges. The journalist Nikolay Staykov, a recent victim of Peevski, helping German-French ARTE TV with their investigation against Peevski, will tell his testimonial. Representatives of the protesters in Ukraine will also be joining.
The meeting in Brussels is taking place amid month-long protests in many cities in Bulgaria have been going on every day since 28 May 2013, which have brought together rightist and leftist supporters. The common target against which people of all political affiliations and social backgrounds have unified their forces is Delyan Peevski, who owns much of the media and communications sector in Bulgaria. Peevski that previously scandalised the public with his abuse of power as a judicial investigator, deputy minister and Member of the Parliament, is now in possession of a large share of media (printed and electronic), distribution channels for the press, technological facilities for broadcasting of the electronic media, and a mobile operator. He capitalizes his media power in political power and vice versa: when the Parliament, without any grounds or transparency, appointed him as director of the Intelligence Agency in Bulgaria (abbreviated as ДАНС in the local language) and his media covered the story as the best institutional appointment ever in history, thousands of people went out in the streets of Bulgaria and have continued protesting every day since the summer of 2013.
As Peevski is becoming more powerful, continuously buying more shares of the media market using loans offered by the Corporate Commercial Bank (where the state has deposited much of its public funds), he goes beyond other limits: using his influence over the police authorities, in January he tried to prevent German-French ARTE TV from making an investigation about him. The police did not enforce the law: just the opposite, they threatened ARTE’s team not to cover Peevski but eventually ARTE did make their report.
Each time protesters gather in the streets, the police guarding them increases in numbers and in brutality. Unlawful arrests of protesters have become common, while notorious Petnoto (nickname: the Spot) was investigated by non-Peevski media and disclosed as being paid by Peevski’s circle to sabotage the protests. Petnoto whose rich criminal record included charges over drug smuggling and distribution was often chosen by the government among all protesters to represent them in negotiations.