Georgi Kozhuharov Georgi Kozhuharov

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
21 Apr 2019

Socotra Island has always been one of the most isolated and hard to reach places on Earth, but in the meantime has always captured the interest of the main political powers in the region. Now the island is part of Yemen, and suffers the indirect consequences of the war taking place on the continent since 2015. Socotra Island is situated 400 km away from the Arabian Peninsula and currently is closed for journalists. In order to get to the island I had to sail illegally on a small cargo ship and to introduce myself as anthropology researcher. On the island I found that there were two military bases of Saudi Arabia and that it was up to the Saudis to decide who comes and goes from the island. Surprisingly local people were very open and gladly spoke about the situation on the island. They believe that their story deserves to be told. All economical investments on the island come from the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, thanks to their donations the hospital still functions; they support the function of the local fishing factory and other small businesses. For the past decades life on the island has changed dramatically. In 1967 Socotra became part of South Yemen and started adopting traditions and practices, coming from the continent. Religion became more and more important, leaving not much space for the myths and magic, once integral part of the locals’ belief system. People used to tell stories about jinns roaming the island, held witch trials and composed political poems in Socotri language. Now in school children don’t study Socotri, but only Arabian. . Socotri language is predating the Arabic language, but is on its way to be forgotten for the generations to come. There are fewer poets composing poems about politics and social causes. Tales of jinns are rarely spoken beside the fire. Also due to lack of control and support the island is facing a devastating environmental crisis. Socotra Island is home for 700 endemic species, found nowhere else on Earth. The bizarre, prehistoric looking Dragon Blood Tree grows only in the mountains of Socotra. Unfortunately the trees are dying and the reason is still unknown – it could be climate change or the overpopulation of goats, destroying the fragile ecosystem. Quarrels over land are very common among natives in Socotra, now that the people have foreseen the economical potential of this heavenly beautiful island. Socotri people are often selling their properties to foreign investors, mostly coming from the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, for an amount of money only enough to by a second hand car. Salma, who inhabits a small stone cottage on Detwah Lagoon, was born in a cave nearby. She lived there with her whole family. The land belonged to them for decades, but they were about to lose it on trial in court. Salma spent 2 months in prison, protecting the land that belonged to her ancestors. Some locals think that because of the constant ongoing war and instability on the main land, probably it will be best for Socotra to separate from Yemen and seek either autonomy, either some alliance with the Emirates. Others spoke gladly of the president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi (current official president) and thought that Socotra must stay as it is – part of Yemen. In the meantime in the small shops on the island you can find only basic supplies as flour, rice, canned fish and beans etc. The currency is constantly fluctuating and devaluating. Locals can’t convert their savings to dollars or to any other currency, as the bank and exchange offices have banned it. People are not sure what the future will bring, but they feel relatively safe as at least there is no actual war happening on the island. They hope that eventually the war will be over and the island will be once again open, welcoming tourist and foreigners. There is no doubt that Socotra has vast potential. The only concerns are which country will actually take advantage of this natural beauty; what will be the outcome and the benefit for the native population; will they manage to preserve the fragile, endemic environment and the Socotri cultural heritage. Text: Rumyana Hristova, photography: Georgi Kozhuharov

Media created

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Boys are selling fish on the beach. Some children quit school to become fishermen and start earning money for their families.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Pupils during a class which they study Islam. Sokotri language is not into the school program.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
13 Mar 2019

Socota island has its own spoken language which is predating the Arabic. On the island for centuries has existed the so called War of the Poets. Socotri poets dedicate their verses to politics. They use their talent to promote their views and believes and to gain supporters for certain cause. They challenge themselves to poetical battles.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Tank located on the beach left from the Soviet occupation of the island in the past.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
10 Mar 2019

Bottle trees. Locals called these trees “useless trees”.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
08 Mar 2019

Khat market in Hadibu. Khat comes by ship every two weeks.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
05 Mar 2019

Cargo Ship from Oman to Socotra Island. Indian sailor on a night watch. Twelve Indians work on the small wooden ship, caring cement. They work for around 150$ a month. They don't have cabins, but instead sleep under the stars, along with hundreds of cockroaches and rats.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
15 Mar 2019

Locals wear the traditional Yemeni skirt for man. The elder still put a traditional knife on their belt, while the younger generation prefers a smart phone. There is no constant internet connection and when it does it is only enough for sending messages.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Salma (the woman on the picture) was born in a cave near the Detwah Laggon on Socotra. Her family lived in a cave for decades. Now she owns the land and a small house made of stones. She spent 2 months in jail, protecting her land from neighbors who wanted to took it from her. Salma thinks that the Yemeni government is weak and allows for it to run from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Because of the foreign influence, the culture and traditions of Socotra will soon disappear.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
12 Mar 2019

A boy collects plastic bottles that he will use to store milk. For people who live far away from the city, plastic bottles are extremely valuable.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
15 Mar 2019

Thousands of goats roam freely around the island, including in the capital Hadibu. Life on Socotra is very basic, but people are happy, because they are safe - far away from the war taking place on the continent.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Mohammed (the man on the picture) still lives in a cave that belonged to his family for centuries. He is a fisherman. He had sent his little son to study in the village nearby, but he feels to attached to his cave. He tells stories about his meetings with jinns. who he thinks still roam around the island.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Decades ago people on the island were so starved that they didn't have strength to bury the people who died. They just dragged the bodies to a small cave, leaving them there. Still the islanders rely mainly on fishing and imported rice.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
10 Mar 2019

Salem (the man on the picture) was born around Dixam Plateau, high in the mountains. He used to live there with his family, but now had to move to the capital, looking for better opportunities. He works as a supervisor in the fish factory. He often visits his parents, wife and four children. His home is near the Dragon Blood Tree forest, so he learned how to collect its precious resin when he was little.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
09 Mar 2019

Salem (the man on the picture) wanted to study in Europe, but then the War started. He thinks that being part of Yemen is no good for Socotra, as the conflicts never stop. He dreams for peace, no matter who will bring it.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
10 Mar 2019

Fishing is the main income for the natives on Socotra. Each morning they go to an improvised fishing market, around an abandoned building in the capital Hadibu.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
17 Mar 2019

Socotra is facing a serious environmental crisis. Tones of trash and plastic are conquering the island and locals doesn't seem preoccupied. Due to the trash the water is contaminated and might cause serious diseases.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
10 Mar 2019

Dragon Blood Trees are one of the 700 endemic species found on the island. They are slowly dying and the reason is still unknown. Since the war started in 2015 all environmental programs on the island stopped. Some researchers suppose that the trees are disappearing due to the climate change, others say that it might be because of the over population of goats which destroyed the fragile ecosystem. There are no young trees in the wild.

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Socotra - The Invisible Island
Socotra Island
By Georgi Kozhuharov
10 Mar 2019

Old Bedouin pose for a picture next to the fire in his house in the Dragon Blood Tree forest. Many people migrate towards the city and the villages along the coast, some still leave high in the mountain, taking care for their goats and leaving as their ancestors once did.

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Riots in Bulgaria(10 of 10).
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
11 Nov 2013
             Protesters and police scuffle during a demonstration near the parliament in central Sofia November 12, 2013. Several hundred students and anti-government protesters surrounded the parliament in the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government. 
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Riots in Bulgaria(9 of 10).
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
11 Nov 2013

Protesters and police scuffle during a demonstration near the parliament in central Sofia November 12, 2013. Several hundred students and anti-government protesters surrounded the parliament in the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government.

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Riots in Bulgaria(7 of 10)
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
11 Nov 2013
    Protesters and police scuffle during a demonstration near the parliament in central Sofia November 12, 2013. Several hundred students and anti-government protesters surrounded the parliament in the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government.          
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Riots in Bulgaria(4 of 10).
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
11 Nov 2013
             Protesters and police scuffle during a demonstration near the parliament in central Sofia November 12, 2013. Several hundred students and anti-government protesters surrounded the parliament in the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government. 
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Riots in Bulgaria(2 of 10)
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
10 Nov 2013

Protesters scuffle with police during a demonstration near the parliament in central Sofia November 12, 2013. Several hundred students and anti-government protesters surrounded the parliament in the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government.

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Riots in Bulgaria(1of 10)
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
11 Nov 2013
Protesters scuffle with police during a demonstration near the parliament in central Sofia November 12, 2013. Several hundred students and anti-government protesters surrounded the parliament in the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government.                            
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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.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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The peaceful revolution
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Georgi Kozhuharov
02 Sep 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.