Bulgaria's Revolution

Collection with 12 media items created by Transterra Editor

22 Jul 2013 20:15

Thousands of mainly younger, well-educated Bulgarians have been rallying in Sofia and other cities since June 14 to demand the resignation of the Socialist-led cabinet.

What sparked the unrest originally was the appointment of the representative of DPS (Movement of rights and freedom) Delyan Peevski as the head of the State Agency of National Security. Demonstrators then rallied against Plamen Oresharski’s cabinet, protesting openly against his media, which have been accused by the majority of the public of presenting the procession in his benefit. Because of the scandal involving the appointment of Peevski, President Rosen Plevneliev announced that he no longer trusts the Oresharski cabinet. Even after the removal of Delyan Peevski, the protests continued, still demanding the government’s resignation. Unprecedented in duration, people have now been in protesting for three consecutive months. The protests have been relatively peaceful, the activists by in large have been avoiding provocation and clashes with the police.

The journalist photographed people protesting, then in their every day life, to give a more in-depth look at the people behind the Bulgarian unrest. Borislav Popov, who decided to stay in Bulgaria rather than live abroad, believes that "we have to learn that we are the ones that are responsible for our lives and we can’t keep complaining that communism, our parents, or our employers are at fault; we have to take responsibility for our actions."

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Bulgaria 1
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

The night of July 23, on the 40th day of the protests in Sofia, Bulgaria. A little after ten o’clock when a bus with deputies and members of parliament tried to get through the live blockade around the parliament, clashes occurred. This girl was trying to stop the policemen that pushed the gathered protesters aside.

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Bulgaria 2
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
23 Jul 2013

The girl is Silvinya Katcarska and I found her in her apartment in the center of Sofia, where she often spends a lot of time working in front of the computer. She lives with her friend who had a bandaged arm because of an injury during the clash. Silvinya is an assistant producer at a production company. “My daily life consists of working all day and going to these protests at night”, she said. Her motives to go every day to the protests are the brutal appointments. In her words, the government has shown abuse of power. In the night of 23rd July she accuses the MI because of their decision to try and take the deputies away with a bus. She describes the action as insane and thinks that it was bound to lead to conflicts. “Actually, the only thing we did was to stand there refusing to let the deputies leave, and even though it was clear as day that we would block them, they still tried to pass by us, through us, that’s how the conflict started.” Of the frame of that night she said, “You can see that we’ve been pushed back by the policemen, we are just trying to stand our ground and our being there shows our opinions that we are not satisfied, that we want to be heard, that we want a resignation, that we want early elections. Unfortunately, there has been no attempt at communication with the protesters and that makes people angry and prone to more radical means in the form of the blockades, but no one has called for violence, we were just there, standing our ground.

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Bulgaria 3
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

On the 30th June it was raining cats and dogs but again thousands gathered to protest. This couple was hugging and standing unmoving under a large black umbrella for a long time.

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Bulgaria 4
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

They are Rumyana Tconeva and Manol Glishev. They got to know each other and started dating during the protests. We met as they were going together to the square. Rumyana is a second-year university student in History and she stands against the current government and their “insolent decisions, to put it mildly”. After this Manol heatedly adds, “In my opinion, this government is good for nothing!” He works in an IT firm and in his words his salary directly suffers ever since this government came to power. “Besides, personally, I don’t want to pay for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. I don’t even need the Belene Nuclear Power Plant and not only that but there is no need for a loan from Russia, and I don’t need this incompetent economist to pose as a prime minister and promise to give money to the poor with borrowed money”, said Manol. “I was and I might soon be poor again if this continues. It’s a bad deal to give money borrowed money to the poor.” Afterwards, Manol shared with me that Rumiana is always very nervous in front of cameras but is otherwise very active in the protests. “It’s the opposite with some people. They talk a lot in front of the camera and act little” he added.

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Bulgaria 5
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

On the 27th June this woman was sitting in the middle of ‘Tcarigradsko Shose’ and was reading a book, while the boulevard was blocked by protesters. I noticed that she was pregnant and didn’t peel her eyes from the book she was reading even once.

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Bulgaria 6
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

We arranged to meet at the park she likes to take walks in. Her name is Vasilena Radeva, she loves mountaineering and extreme experiences, but as she is 9 months pregnant she can only allow herself walks in the park. She is a theatre director. The reason to participate in the procession is, in her words, for a better life and a just cause. She said. “We all went out 46 days ago because of sheer indignation, but now our cause is a lot bigger, it’s about the fact that we care, that we don’t want people with lower mental capacity than the people that chose them to rule over us.” “The other reason is for the future I carry inside me”, she touched her stomach tenderly. “I chose to live in Bulgaria despite my husband and future son being American. It is very important for me to have a family in a good environment. Because of the long duration of the protests a lot of our time goes by, and not just time for ‘drinking beer’ and time for work but also time for personal enrichment in knowledge. I chose to be a little to the side of this protest so that I could read a book. It’s entitled ‘Theory of Theatre’. That way, I decided, I could combine my civil stand with the work I have, and also show that the protesters out here aren’t just some young, unemployed people that look for a place to drink beer. No, we try to both work and create, whilst protesting and we want a better life.”

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Bulgaria 7
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

Many parents bring their children to the protests. I chose to find the person from this frame because I liked their fighting spirit- the combination of the father with the vuvuzela and his son with a toy pistol and a cute beret on his head.

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Bulgaria 8
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

This is Nikolay Iliev, he works as a taxi driver at the moment. Before I took the shot at his workplace we talked for a long time about the political situation in our country and why foreigners abroad find it hard to understand the protests in Bulgaria. He said that there is no way to explain that the government is purposely pointing the ‘ship’ to a clash. I asked him to summarize why he participates in the campaigns against the government with a few sentences. “Because of the back-stage puppeteering in politics in Bulgaria” he said confidently and continued “It’s preposterous for a prime minister not to remember the names of the people in his team as he introduces them because he was told those names not ten minutes prior to the preconference. This cabinet has to resign immediately because to a demand to Oresharski to tell the truth about the appointment of Delyan Peevski he answered with “You want me to lie to you.” A Bulgarian Prime Minister that answers that he has to lie to me when I want the truth from him, won’t have my support for a hundred minutes, let alone days regardless of which political party he is” said Nikolay. He shared that he goes to the protests very often with his son. The latter is three years old. On the photo he is on his father’s shoulders and carries a toy-gun in response to the head of “Ataka”, Volen Siderov, who goes into the parliament with a gun, yet his is no toy, and “threatens the citizens with prison just because they have a different point of view.” “This is nonsense that needs to end.” Nikolay doesn’t want his son to protest again after fifteen or twenty years for the same reason as today. He adds “The leader of PES with his incompetence to go against the back-stage maneuvers is discredited and I believe that in Europe, he would’ve been replaced from the post he is at in PES. The European Socialists doubtlessly don’t imagine such a model of governing their own countries.” Nikolay thinks that the protests aren’t going well. He dreads that while the Bulgarian protests from home or after working hours in front of an empty building there won’t be a lot of development. “Because how indignant is a person who shouts ‘resignation, now’ when he is ready to do it only at a convenient time after working hours. We can’t only be rebels and patriots just after 7 p.m.”

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Bulgaria 9
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

On the 11th of July during “Coffee in the parliament,” an anti-government campaign organized by a group of young writers and artists, some young people started running and climbing over the fence surrounding the National Assembly. All those who managed to get to the other side were held by the police for a short time.

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Bulgaria 10
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
22 Jul 2013

This is Ivan Dimitrov climbing over the fence surrounding the National assembly. He decided to jump with the others to symbolically show that no one could take away their freedom because, according to him, these fences are illegal.
In his opinion, the problem is that the majority of the political class does whatever it wants, and the politicians think that the people are too desperate and helpless to do anything about it.

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Bulgaria 11
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
23 Jul 2013

This is a scene from one of the first moments the policemen started making way through the blockade of protesters for the bus filled with deputies, on the night of the 40th protest. I chose to find the man who seemed to be shouting at the policemen, because of the strength of his expression.

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Bulgaria 12
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
23 Jul 2013

That is Borislav Popov- manager of a company dealing with intelligent search and text analysis software, mainly for the Medias abroad, such as BBC, Oxford University Press etc. He is interested in Buddhism, before that he was involved in parachutism, he was a bungee instructor, and is a father of one. He said that he’s always had the opportunity to live abroad but that he decided that he had to live in Bulgaria. “It was actually a ‘sitting’ protest; there were many other people around me. When the policemen came, they directly jumped me with their shields”, relates Borislav in regards to the photo from the night of the blockade. “It wasn’t a gradual pushing aside of a crowd, it was jumping on sitting people with shields.” As he sees himself on the photo he adds “I was shouting at the policemen that there are women and children there. I’ve always been for the peaceful carrying out of the protests, therefore what was happening was unique.If we resort to violence these protests will not be legitimate. The whole event is also unique with the fact that if we compare it to other protests in Bulgaria, and even in Europe and the world, there is a difference in the demands. They aren’t so economical as they simply for more moral governing.” Borislav also said why he’s protesting. “What really bothers me is my daughter and how she would grow in such an environment. The people I work with and I live in a pink bubble, more or less, we have a good job, good relationships, and our friends are a specific type of people, so the loss of priorities we see doesn’t really concern us. I will quote my grandfather, who is a very strong person and in such cases he says this: “Bulgaria, Bulgaria, for you they died and only when your name they muttered, countless died”, shares Borislav and continues. “Actually we want to have not politicians, but statesmen and for those statesmen to have values that we ourselves can see as higher than our own; to be able to look at those people and think: ‘Wow, this person really has high values and I would like to be like him/her.’” According to him there is a “natural disgust towards artificial authorities” in Bulgaria. “We have to learn that we are the ones that are responsible for our lives and we can’t keep complaining that communism, our parents, or our employers are at fault; we have to take responsibility for our actions.” In his words steps towards direct democracy should be made, but they have to be careful. “What made me proud of the people from the protest is that the majority of them very busy people, but they take the time to protest. For first time I went to one of these protests I felt like a citizen of this country and I was proud of it. It is all because of the people I met there”, shares Borislav.