Bulgarians have taken to the streets of Sofia to vent their anger over several appointments the government has made that they see as dubious and only serving the interests of oligarchs.
For two weeks, thousands of Bulgarians have been chanting “Step down” and “Mafia” in front of government buildings in the capital Sofia.
The governing coalition of Socialists and the Turkish minority party DPS has been in office less than a month, and people are calling for it to step down. When people took to the streets in February, which prompted the government of Boyko Borissov to step down, it was over utility prices.
This time, it is not about social problems in the EU’s poorest country, it is about highlighting what the mainly middle class, university-educated protesters see as a corrupt political elite in Bulgaria.
The protests flared up when the government announced it would appoint Delyan Peevski as head of the secret service. Many Bulgarians see 32-year-old Peevski as highly dubious and well-connected in Bulgaria’s underworld.
Peevski and his mother, Irena Krasteva, who is the former head of the national lottery, own a television channel, several newspapers and the biggest newspaper printing press. Just where the money for these investments came from, is not clear.
In 2007, Peevski’s career seemed to come to a halt. When he was the head of Ministry of Emergency Situations, he was being investigated for embezzlement and corruption, but was never formally charged.
The way the current government fast-tracked his appointment as head of the secret service sparked angry protests, as the government even amended certain laws to match Peevski’s profile with the job.