2013–14 Bulgarian protests against the Oresharski cabinet

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2013–14 Bulgarian protests against the Oresharski cabinet
Протести срещу кабинета "Орешарски"
Bulgarian Protest against Oresharski Cabinet.jpg
8 July 2013, protesters in Sofia blocked the biggest boulevard in the city – "Tsarigradsko Shose"
Date 22:00, 14 June 2013 (UTC +02) (2013-06-14T22:00UTC +02) – ongoing
(  10 months 3 weeks 18 hours )
Location Bulgaria, primarily Sofia
  • Kalin Tiholov replaced by Ivan Danov as Investment Planning Minister (arguably as a measure of pre-empting the protests)[16][17]
  • nomination of Ivan Ivanov as deputy Minister of Interior withdrawn,[18] Yordan Gramov assumes the position[19]
  • Delyan Peevski steps down as head of DANS, Vladimir Pisanchev takes his place on 19 July after a vote in Parliament[20]
  • Volen Siderov gives up his Parliamentary immunity[21]
  • three no-confidence motions brought in Parliament by GERB (defeated)[22][23]
  • changes to the electoral rules approved by the National Parliament
  • counter-protests in support of the government and against president Rosen Plevneliev[24]
  • student occupations of universities (no longer in place)
  • continued protests, with a small turnout
Lead figures
no officially designated leaders

Plamen Oresharski (Prime Minister)

Sergei Stanishev (leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party)

Between 10,000 and 20,000 anti-government protesters (in the first two months) in Sofia[25][26]

3,000 in Plovdiv[27]

1,000 in Varna[27][28]

300 in Bourgas[29]

150 in Stara Zagora[30]

100 in Rousse, Shoumen, Gabrovo and Sliven[30][31]

100-1,000 pro-government counter-protesters in Sofia[32][33][34]

1,000+ in Kardzhali[35]

500+ in Vidin[36]

150 in Blagoevgrad[37]
8,000 police officers deployed in total (between 20 and 500 per day)[38]
Arrested 280+[39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50]

The 2013–14 Bulgarian protests against the Oresharski cabinet are series of demonstrations that are held in Bulgaria, mainly in the capital Sofia, against the left-wing coalition cabinet of Oresharski (coalition between Bulgarian Socialist Party and DPS, supported by extreme right-wing party Ataka). The demonstrations started on 28 May 2013[51] and while actual large-scale protests did not emerge until 14 June,[52] the protests are still continuing with occupations of universities and other forms of protest.[53][54]


Following 2013 Bulgarian protests against the Borisov cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov over government austerity measures encouraged by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund during the recession[55] and high utility bills, the Borisov government resigned and brought forward the Bulgarian parliamentary election, 2013. Though Borisov's party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) won a plurality, it could not form a government. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) led the government under technocratic Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski. The left-wing government of Plamen Oresharski was approved by the 120 members of the BSP and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.[56] Outside support to the Oresharski Government is also given by nationalist party Ataka.[57]

On 12 May 2013, a group of more than 100 demonstrators alleging electoral machinations were involved in confrontations with police close to the National Palace of Culture after election day polls indicated that GERB was the projected winner.[58][59]

May: Environmental protests[edit]

Initially the demonstrations started as a protest by environmentalists and green activists against the nomination of Kalin Tiholov as Investment Planning Minister. Tiholov has been involved in the controversial "Dyuni-gate" affair, whereby he had invested in a major building project at the Dyuni ("dunes") nature spot on the Black Sea coast.[60][61] Due to the protests Tiholov withdrew his candidature.[62] Protests arose for a variety of topics, with most important the restart of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant and construction in protected areas.[citation needed][63][64][65]

On 30 May 2013, there was also public discontent against a government proposal (supported by Attack) to remove the smoking ban in restaurants and eateries.[66]

Summer months: focus on Peevski appointment[edit]

June–July: Protests for the resignation of Peevski as a head of DANS[edit]

Protest in Sofia against the election of Delyan Peevski as a head of DANS, 14 June 2013
Protest in Sofia against the Oresharski cabinet, 8 July 2013

The second series of protests had a far more political scope. These protests started on 14 June, as response to the election of Delyan Peevski as a head of the Bulgarian security agency DANS (State Agency for National Security).[67][68][69] Peevski, an MP for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), is also head of Alegro Capital LTD, a big communications company which includes the TV7 network.[70] The decision to elect Peevski has also been linked to the Corporate Commercial Bank ("CCB" or "KTB", Bulg: КТБ), wherein much funding for state development projects is invested. The bank's largest shareholder, Tsvetan Vasilev, has been repeatedly linked in the public sphere to the media holdings of Peevski and his mother Irena Krasteva.[71][72]

Peevski was approved by parliament within an hour of being nominated by the ruling coalition of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and DPS. His surprising election immediately provoked nationwide protests the same evening (10,000 in Sofia alone), organized through Facebook.[73][74][75] Over 80,000 people joined the "ДАНСwithme" group on Facebook between 14 and 15 June.[76] Peevski initially subscribed to the viewpoint that the protests were not attributable to genuine popular level sentiments, but were orchestrated by forces that had reasons to fear future investigations by him.[77]

Although the election was a surprise for the public, later investigations by newspaper Capital made clear that the appointment was not as spontaneous as claimed by BSP. In fact, it was carefully orchestrated and prepared long before BSP was able to form a cabinet.[78] The appointment of Peevski caused widespread indignation. Even president Plevneliev spoke out against it and stated that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Oresharski has lost credibility.[79] Political scientist Ivan Krastev commented that the Peevski appointment made sense only if the government had taken a decision for the country to leave the European Union.[80]

Public anger was exacerbated by the fact that in the weeks and days leading up to Peevski's election, the parliament had approved major changes in the legal framework of DANS structures, which gave its head unprecedented powers. The changes included:[81]

  • taking DANS out of the structure of the Interior Ministry and putting it under the direct auspices of the Cabinet
  • taking the Anti-Organized Crime Directorate out of the Interior Ministry and placing it under the direct control of DANS
  • taking away the President's right to nominate the head of DANS.

Although Peevski wrote on 15 June that he will be withdrawing from the post,[82] the protests stem from general discontent with the government as a whole.[83][84] The release of Peevski from his position as head of DANS was confirmed on 19 June and his status as a National Parliament deputy remained in limbo until 8 October.[85]

The demonstrations started on 28 May 2013,[51] but actual large-scale protests did not emerge until the controversial appointment of Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security on 14 June.[52] Despite the government's decision to reverse the appointment, protests continued, raising new demands, including Mr Oresharski's resignation.[86] Demonstrations have been noted for their use of social networks[75] and the social networking opportunities have been recognized by some commentators as a contributing factor to the rejuvenating of the protests on a number of occasions.[87] It has also been suggested that the timing of the 2013 demonstrations in Turkey played some part in energizing the anti-Oresharski protest movement.[88]

The protests are still ongoing weeks after the reversal of Peevski's appointment, attracting a steady number of 10,000 to 15,000 people without any signs of attenuation. Because of the lack of response from the government, the demonstrators have resorted to other means of expressing their anger over the presumed corruption of the government, including protesting every morning in front of the parliament, as part of the morning initiative to "drink coffee" with the politicians, and blockading different roads at random. Despite demonstrations, the government has largely ignored the protesters and dismissed their claims.[89] Although at first largely ignored by the world press, the demonstrations are starting to receive more significant worldwide attention both by the media and the general population via the use of social networks.[90][91][92]

On 13 July, a protester procession made a theatric reenactment of the Liberty Leading the People painting of Eugène Delacroix.[93]

Continuity and divergences between the February and June protests[edit]

Since the early days of the protests, there has been somewhat of a split between the participants in the protest marches that forced the resignation of the Borisov government and the majority of the anti-Oresharski demonstrators, with the former generally willing to give the government some time to prove itself (even if lacking enthusiasm for it, as the Oresharski cabinet was not regarded as truly reflecting the initial expectations that the government will consist of a relatively apolitical collection of experts that would satisfy the main demands of the February protesters)[94] rather than demanding immediate resignation.[95] Some organizers of the February 2013 protests have taken issue with what they deem as the new protesters' inclination to characterize the participants in the anti-Borisov protest waves as uncouth and lacking intellectual sophistication.[96] The divide (which is not an absolute one) is also confirmed on the empirical level – according to research by the Sofia Open Society Institute encompassing the months of June and July, only 3.5% of the participants in the February demonstrations report to have taken part in the anti-Oresharski protests.[9] Popular TV host Yavor Dachkov opines that the anti-Oresharski protests (unlike the February demonstrations) lack the markings of a mass movement due to deriving their strength almost exclusively from the inhabitants of Sofia.[97] Analysts note that Varna – which saw the most intense demonstrations against the Borisov cabinet – has remained largely quiet and noncommittal during the anti-Oreshaski protests.[98] A number of commentators have blamed the anti-Oresharski protesters for keeping their distance from the February demonstrators by deliberately avoiding any socially and economically-oriented demands,[99][100] while others have regarded the rift between the "poor and downtrodden" February activists and the "middle to upper class intellectual" summer protesters as largely an artificially created one[101] with the active complicity of the government and pro-government media in their attempt to present the governing coalition as a protector of the less affluent Bulgarians.[100] Garnizov suggests that the make-up of the February and June protester groups is quite similar, but the informal leaders and those who are able to put themselves on the media's radar are manifestly different, with some of the faces of the February protests such as Angel Slavchev never able to capitalize on their previous protest efforts and recreate their leadership role.[102]

A minority of pundits such as Evgeniy Mihaylov characterize the informal leaders of the February demonstrations as actively supportive of the Oresharski government (which is alleged to be favourable to Russian interests in Bulgaria) and claim that these figures are the main force behind the counter-protests by backing Oresharski and voicing grievances against Plevneliev.[103]

Some protest figures such as Svetoslav Nikolov, who was behind the initiative of setting up tents on the western side of Parliament on 17 June 2013, have declared themselves largely satisfied because of the Peevski resignation and the changes to the electoral rules implemented by the Oresharski cabinet.[104]

Siege of Parliament, 23–24 July[edit]

On the night of 23–24 July there was violence in the protesting.[105] By the end of July 2013, anti-government protesters were still out in force protesting peacefully in Sofia with Reuters recording 24 July 2013 as the 41st straight day of peaceful protests. The protesters were demanding the resignation of the Socialist-led government of Oresharski. More than 100 lawmakers, ministers, and journalists spent the night barricaded inside Parliament before police removed them. MPs attempted to leave Parliament by boarding a white coach bus and making their way through the crowd. There was violence as the police tried to clear the way for the bus, but, they were unsuccessful and after slowly making its way around the Aleksandar Nevski cathedral, the bus returned to the back exit of Parliament after about an hour around midnight. A police action at around 4 am forcefully cleared the remaining protesters, and the coach left, which led to further accusations of police violence in the ensuing days.[106][107][108][109] A survey covering the attitudes of Bulgarians showed that 65% felt that the actions of the protesters on that day were out of line, while 53% also disapproved of the police response. 79% agreed that the provocateurs involved in the violence need to have charges levelled against them.[110] Author Hristo Stoyanov has been critical of the tendency to impute false intellectualism to some of those protesting in violation of the legal regulations, seeing the methods employed by the protesters between 23 and 24 July as a threat to the fundamentals of Bulgarian democracy.[111]

Other developments (August–September)[edit]

On 7 August 2013, on the 55th day of the demonstrations, some the main organizers of the protests held their first press conference, announcing that a "protest network" (Bulgarian: "протестна мрежа") had been formed to help them co-ordinate their activities.[112][113]

August – Seaside protest

When parliamentarians took their annual break in August, many protesters followed them to their residences on the Black Sea coast.[114][115][116]

September – Return to Sofia

After parliament opened once again in September, the Sofia protests continued but with a low turnout of a few dozen to a hundred people each day. This was on some days outnumbered by participants of the counter-protest, which now moved to the Presidency, also located in Independence square, with both protests metres away from one another.[117] One exception was the opening session of Parliament after the summer break (on 4 September), during which the protester numbers were in the thousands and a minority of demonstrators attempted to wrestle away and change the positioning of metal railings in front of the Parliament.[118] 11 people identified as provocateurs were subsequently charged for these activities and for disobeying police orders.[119]

On 5 September 2013, Samuil Petkanov, founder of satirical website nenovinite.com and a prominent member of "protest network", sent out an open letter to Boyko Borisov, in which he objected to what he saw as certain GERB sympathizers' attempts to hijack the demonstrations and add a more radical dimension to them (on that day some protesters had attempted to move a number of the barriers close to the official entrance of National Parliament building, but the fences were subsequently put back in place by the police).[120] Borisov responded to the letter, agreeing with Petkanov's points (emphasizing that the deputy leader of his party, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, had managed to calm down the situation) and reiterating his party's commitment to an exclusively peaceful protest.[121]

October: Students' protests and university occupations after return of Peevski[edit]

On 8 October 2013, the Constitutional Court effectively allowed Peevski to return to Parliament after failing to reach a decision on whether to strip him of his MP status. Several hundred people turned out for the 117th day of protests, a slightly higher number than in previous days. There were some violent episodes between protesters and police.[122][123]

On 23 October 2013, students at Sofia University joined the anti-Oresharski Government protests and occupied the main lecture hall in protest against the "façade democracy" and asked for "accountability from their professors", mainly from their history of law professor Dimitar Tokushev, who is also chairman of the Constitutional Court. The student protests and the occupation of university buildings injected new life into a persistent anti-government movement that was into its 140th day on 1 November.[124][125][126][127][128] The protest intensified over the next few days, and on 27 October counter-protesters, joined by a Bulgarian Socialist Party MPs, made their way into the university and clashed with students.[129][130] By the next day, several universities across the country were occupied by students, including NBU, NATFIZ, VTU and UNWE.[131][132]

In a statement read to the public on 25 October 2013, the occupying students explained that they are: "…angered by the systemic violations of constitutional order in the country by the current government led by Plamen Oresharski." Among their objectives is to force the resignation of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's government and see new general elections as soon as possible.[126] The occupation was backed by approximately 600 academics, though the occupiers did not constitute a majority among either the students or members of staff at Sofia University.[133]

November: March of Justice and Second attempt to siege Parliament[edit]

On 10 November 2013, March of Justice was organized on the 24th anniversary of 10 November 1989 events (resignation of the former communist head of state Todor Zhivkov), the protests against the left-wing Oresharski cabinet gained new momentum.[134]

On 12 November 2013, the anti-government protesters on the 152nd day of anti-government protests attempted to siege Parliament for a second time (the first time being 23–24 July).[135]

On 13 November, the occupation of Plovdiv University came to an end, with the students vowing to redirect their activities to Sofia.[136]

On 13 November, tension developed between protesters and police officers after a demonstrator jumped on a deputy's car close to National Assembly Square.[137]

In addition to the protests that take place every day, a massive protest was organized by GERB on 16 November in Plovdiv,[138] with the number of participants estimated as close to 15,000 by the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs,[139] and by the labor unions on 20 November in Sofia.[140]

On 18 November, the student occupation of Sofia University was partially lifted, with the Aula Magna room becoming the only exclusive domain of the occupiers and restrictions on access to the university premises remaining in place.[141][142]

December: Holiday protests with emigrant involvement[edit]

On 2 December 2013, the protests started with a demonstration by leading Bulgarian actors who made a symbolic funeral of the Parliament.[143] One of them, Filip Avramov, made an emotional appeal for resignation of the government in front of a reporter of the Bulgarian National Television.

December is a month of Christian holidays which will be feted with protests on Christmas.[144] On 26 December 2013, approximately 3000 protesters (including many emigrants who had returned for the holidays) held a rally in front of the Parliament.[50]

Analysis conducted by Gallup Research notes that December has seen somewhat of a reduction in intra-societal tensions compared to November, though the conclusion is reached that the potential for further protests is still very much in the picture.[145]

January 2014: Siderov scandal and new short-lived university occupation[edit]

On 10 January 2014, the protesters against the cabinet of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski blocked for a while the traffic in front of the Council of Ministers.[146] While the protest turnout remained low, the central parts of the city near the main government buildings saw a heavy police presence due to tip-offs suggesting that illegal disruption activities of a radical nature were being planned and the date coinciding with the 17-year anniversary of the 1997 attempted storming of Parliament.[147][148]

In the late evening hours of 13 January 2014, the occupying students held a general meeting and subsequently decided to fully lift the occupation of Sofia University, thus vacating the Aula Magna room. One of the participants commented that the students recognize the need to break the cycle of predictability and from now on will concentrate their activities in the areas of the city close to the National Parliament. The students from the South-West University in Blagoevgrad followed suit by declaring the occupation of their institution of higher education to be over.[149][150]

On 15 January 2014, the protests continued during the opening session of the National Parliament for the new year (though the number of participants remained in the hundreds), with the added demand that the MEPs vote for the revocation of Volen Siderov's parliamentary immunity – the Ataka party leader had earlier in the month been involved in a confrontation with the French cultural attaché for Bulgaria, Stéphanie Dumortier, a Bulgarian airplane passenger and Varna-based police officers.[151] Siderov also had on numerous occasions criticized the protesters, dismissing their demands as illegitimate and anti-patriotic.[152] During the demonstrations, Biser Milanov and fellow members of the National Liberty movement (Bulgarian: Национално движение "Свобода"), who were identified by some of the protesters as having affiliations with Nikolay Barekov's party "Bulgaria without censorship"(Bulgarian: "България без цензура") and being driven by an interest in discrediting the protests,[153] were arrested by a specialized squad of the Bulgarian police on the insistence of the prosecutor-general due to a criminal charge filed against Milanov (unrelated to his immediate presence at the protests).[154] Milanov is currently on trial for allegedly uttering threats against a female protester on 6 July 2013 and inciting racial hatred against dark-skinned refugees on 2 November 2013.[155] In an interview with journalist and TV host Martin Karbovski, the chairman of the National Liberty movement, Yordan Bonev, claimed to have attended a meeting with Boyko Borisov in mid January 2014 (alongside Biser Milanov), during which the possibility of organizing a massive anti-government demonstration was discussed. While Barekov has corroborated this, Borisov has denied any knowledge of such a gathering having taken place.[156][157]

On 25 January 2014, the protest in the Sofia University started again, with a new occupation.[158] The stated demands include the resignation of the government, a dissolution of the National Parliament and the stepping down of university dean Ivan Ilchev.[159] In addition, alleged provocations on the part of university staff members during the previous strike action as well the conclusions of the European Commission's most recent report on Bulgaria have been cited among the trigger factors for the university students' decision to renew the occupation.[160] The leading figures behind the new occupation were profiled as belonging to a "radical wing" of the previous occupying students (who had been against their colleagues' decision – that was taken in mid January – to restore full access to the university facilities for the staff and non-occupying students)[161] and did not receive the full backing of all the previous participants in the occupation,[162] some of whom adopted the stance that the timing of the occupation was not well-chosen and had caused them to postpone the public debate in the form of round table discussions, which was supposed to begin on that date and was envisioned as a new phase of the protest.[163] It has also been suggested that the new student protesters did not shun the politicization of their activities, as they were seeking a "decapsulation" and unlike the other occupiers were open to cooperating with political parties and civil society organizations that are in opposition to the Oresharski government,[164] as well as with football fan clubs.[165]

On 27 January 2014, counter-occupiers attempted to enter the university grounds and demanded that the occupation come to an end; police eventually arrived on the scene to prevent any arguments from arising between the occupiers and their opponents.[166]

On 28 January 2014, the new occupiers voluntarily lifted the occupation after intensive discussions with administrative personnel, university staff and fellow students, though some of them stated that they had faced undue pressure to come to such a decision[167] and also expressed disappointment that they did not receive sufficient support from the wider society.[168]

February 2014: Multifaceted issues and continued subsiding of protest activities[edit]

On 1 February 2014, Justin Tomms, Miriana Zaharieva and other informal protest leaders officially registered the non-governmental organization "Movement for European Unity and Solidarity" (Bulgarian: Движение за европейско обединение и солидарност), which is expected to soon become a new political party, though it will not be able to take part in the European elections. The members of DEOS do not envision themselves as a "protest party", but a regular liberal-leaning faction.[169]

On 6 February 2014, student and other protesters demonstrated by carrying banners against the mafia expressing outrage and opposition to the deputies' decision to raise their personal work salaries after months of constant protests.[170]

On 7 February 2014, student and other protesters showed their anti-government stances by carrying and throwing around computer mice in front of the Parliament building, criticizing what they view as the government's reluctance to implement a system of electronic voting.[171]

On 9 February 2014, some of the participants in the 2013 Bulgarian protests against the Borisov cabinet rallied on the streets of Sofia and Plovdiv in commemoration of the events that took place in February 2013. While they did not call for a resignation of the Oresharski cabinet, the protesters expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of action taken by Oresharski (and Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova) against the monopoly companies, lamenting the lack of significant transformations in the economic realm in the 12 months since the end of the Borisov cabinet's tenure.[172] The newly formed party "Bulgaria without censorship" was among the main organizers of the citizen gatherings.[173]

As of late February 2014, mostly with the consent of the demonstrators, the protest tent cities in the area of the National Parliament have been taken down in preparation for the Bulgarian national holiday celebrations to be held on 3 March.[104][174]

March 2014: Preparing the ground for a referendum and Karadere controversy[edit]

The major activity of the March protesters was the collection of signatures for the holding of a referendum on electoral rules. Thus they applied pressure on the government for the referendum to take place together with the European elections.[175]

After it became known that the government has given green light to construction works in the Karadere area, massive protests on 23 March 2014 were held in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna; and a counter-protest in Byala.[176] The protesters expressed their view that the few environmentally well-preserved areas in the country should not be turned into concrete landscapes. Allegations have surfaced that architect Georgiy Stanishev, brother of Sergei Stanishev, has been behind this project, but he has denied any involvement.[177]

April 2014[edit]

A new wave of protests occurred in April after rumour spread in the media that Delyan Peevski will be included in the elections list of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) for the upcoming European Parliament election that are going to take place in late May.[178] A group called "Делян Европеевски" (English: Delyan Europeevski) has already been created in Facebook with the motto ‘We did not allow the mummy's boy to be appointed in DANS, let us not allow him to be elected in the European Parliament’. As of 10 april 2014 the group had more than 700 followers. On 9 April 2014 a protest took place in front of the building of the Council of Ministers.[179] The protesters organized themselves using the social network.


Main activities and societal feedback[edit]

The first counter-protest was held on 23 June, in the vicinity of the National Palace of Culture.[180] Counter-protests are said to be paid[181](see protests and counter protests in Ukraine – Euromaidan), a practice started earlier with the paid protesters of extreme right-wing party Ataka, which was documented by National Television of Bulgaria. The practice of paid counter protesting started almost as soon as the large protests against Oresharski occurred (early August 2013[182]) and had its peak with the massive counter-protest that was organized by the BSP and DPS with priorly scheduled trains for the paid protesters on 16 November in Sofia[183] and even against Plevneliev who shows democratic sympathies and as seen by some on the side of the anti-Oresharski protesters, with the number of participants estimated as close to 50,000 by the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs.[139]

Since August 2013, the main leaders of the counter-protest movement have also organized tours around the country, visiting different cities in order to speak in front of the local inhabitants.[184][185] Around mid August, the counter-protests began to take place concurrently with the anti-government protests.[186]

As of late August 2013, the counter-demonstrators claim to have collected 384,000 signatures in support of the government.[187] The pro-government citizens have also accused the president of abandoning his duty as a national unifier and signed petitions calling for his removal from office.[188]

The counter-protests have generally seen a lesser turnout compared to the anti-government protests and according to an Alpha Research survey (taking into account the period between 19 and 27 August) are backed by approximately one third of Bulgarian citizens.[189] While endorsing the right of any national to peacefully protest, president Rosen Plevneliev has depicted the counter-protests as a Bulgarian innovation and also expressed a concern that they could cause further alienation between citizens of disparate ideological persuasions.[190] The counter-protests have been derisively labeled as "manifestations" by pro-protest activists such as Asen Genov due to supposedly lacking the organic nature of the anti-government ones and not being representative of civil society.[191]

In early January 2014, Radoslav Gochev, one of the main organizers of the counter-protests, stated that they will be discontinuing any further events or demonstrations due to their belief that the government has now consolidated its position at the helm of the country. However, he also warned that the pro-government demonstrators remain fully prepared to hit the streets once again if the need arises.[180]

Around 50 counter-protesters gathered close to the official entrance of the National Assembly on 15 January while the first session for the new year was being held in response to the presence of two groups of anti-government demonstrators on the other sides of the building.[192]

Conspiracy theories about the protests[edit]

A number of the supporters of the counter-protests have voiced suspicions regarding the purported involvement (including the alleged offering of renumeration) of influential US-based activists and think tanks in providing impetus for the demonstrations,[193] though this remains a fringe view among scholars.[194] Similar conspiracy theories have been espoused by figures like Biser Milanov (who does not self-identify as a counter-protester, but is believed to fit this description by protest activists),[195] who made a statement at the Council of Ministers in August 2013, in which he affirmed that his "National Liberty" movement would only support the government if it took adequate measures against "paid protesters", entailing granting them permission to create "volunteer patrols" who would operate together with police officers and apprehend "all protest organizers who are driven by a desire to promote George Soros' interests in Bulgaria".[196] Rapper Mihail Mihaylov, who has been described in the media as "one of the faces of the counter-protests",[197] has expressed similar dismay at the alleged meddling of outside agents in Bulgarian affairs and in addition to that criticized the Borisov Government for its supposed authoritarian tendencies, thus subscribing to the argument that GERB is bound to be the beneficiary of any anti-government protests.[198][199] According to research conducted by the Sofia Open Society Institute covering the months of June and July, only 7.4% of respondents cite the concern that GERB could return to the helm of the country as being among their reasons for refusing to participate in a protest.[9] Journalist Petar Volgin, who has been noted for his anti-protest philosophy in contrast to other media anchors,[200] echoes some of the sentiments of the conspiracy theorists, maintaining that the spontaneity of the protests only persisted until their fifth day, after which they were taken over by a collection of interested "political engineers" – right-wing activists, GERB affiliates and "tipping point" circles with close connections to selected oligarchs.[201] Columnists associated with the Ataka party compare the protests to the Otpor! movement as well as the various colour revolutions that are also purported to have been sponsored by pro-US activists and NGOs that are claimed to promote undesirable political correctness norms in Eastern European countries.[202] Thus, foreign agents are deemed capable of exerting an influence of the momentum and intensity of the protests, with one of the speculations being that the government's decision to implicitly give the green light regarding the construction of a 7th unit of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (to be commissioned to American company Westinghouse), placated the pro-American NGOs in Bulgaria and brought about a dwindling in the protest waves.[203][204]

Government response to the protests[edit]

On 19 June, Oresharski acknowledged that he had made a political miscalculation with the DANS appointment and apologized to the protesters and the rest of the Bulgarian citizens, while also stating that stepping down would not be conducive to his overarching aim of restoring political stability. He also requested a grace period from the general public until a number of urgent social policy reforms are implemented.[205] Oresharski has emphasized that he is always open to engaging in discussions with the protesters.[206] Minister of Education Anelia Klisarova has characterized the protests as motivational in the sense of providing further impetus for the government to work for the betterment of the country. However, she has also criticized the occupation of the universities and expressed concerns regarding the nature of the student demands, seeing them as solely political rather than education-related.[207] Sergei Stanishev and Oresharski maintain that the ongoing protests are an indication that the "chains of fear" that had gripped society and the media in previous years have now been removed from the popular consciousness of the citizens.[208] Valeri Zhablyanov, a BSP party deputy, has insisted that from the outset the origins of the protest movement lied in an unwillingness to recognize the election results rather than opposition to the Peevski appointment, believing that they could thus set a dangerous precedent with regard to the stability of the democratic mechanisms in the country.[209] In late June 2013, the chairperson of the National Parliament Mihail Mikov criticized the general media coverage of the protests, stating that the ways in which the demonstrations were being framed could (alongside other factors) bring about their escalation and urged media representatives to show responsibility and the necessary measure of calm when it came to their reporting.[210] Mikov's statement was in turn condemned by prominent journalists and media outlets as well as the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee due to being interpreted as indicating a potential willingness on the part of the government to infringe on media freedom.[211][212] Oresharski, Minister of Interior Tzvetlin Yovchev as well as other members of the cabinet have held a number of meetings with protest figures (in the Council of Ministers building), though doubts have been expressed with regard to the extent to which the people who took part in these discussions were sufficiently representative of the protest movement as a whole, with some of those staunchly opposed to the government even labeling the participants in these events as "convenient protesters".[196][213] Since September 2013, the government has tended to refer to the protests as explicitly political due to GERB supposedly showing its interest in assuming leadership of the demonstrations.[214]

Public reactions to the protests[edit]

While initially (prior to Peevski's resignation), opinion polls revealed that 85% of Sofia citizens were supportive of the protests (with only 23% declaring trust in the Oresharski cabinet),[6][215][216] approval for the protests dropped to 56% in mid July 2013 (with 37% expressing opposition to them and 48% believing them to be "politically motivated") based on nation-wide surveys administered by Sova Harris.[217] Current societal reactions to the protests continue to be mixed, with a relatively even split between pro- and anti-protest voices.[218][219] However, Alpha Research surveys (administered nationwide between 26 and 31 October) indicate that the student protests enjoy a slightly higher degree of popular support than the original demonstrations involving other societal members.[220] In response to a Gallup Research question regarding their voting preferences if the elections were to be held on the same day in which the survey was administered, approximately 22% of interviewees stated that they would likely pick the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party and circa 19% affirmed that they would be inclined to vote for the main one in opposition – Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, which is reflective of the parity when it comes to popular support in the case of the two parties.[221][222]

A petition entitled "Sofia without roadblocks" (Bulgarian: "София без блокади") was circulated in late July 2013 due to dissatisfaction on the part of some citizens because of the traffic disruptions on the main boulevards in the central part of the capital city and noise pollution as a result of the protest activities (caused by both protesters and counter-protesters). Former Bulgarian defense minister Bogomil Bonev was among the initiators of the petition.[223] 90% of Sofia citizens insist that protests are to be conducted in full compliance with the legal regulations pertaining to mass citizen gatherings.[224]

The protests against the Oresharski cabinet are supported by 60 percent of Bulgarians, according to a poll by the independent Alpha Research.[134] Research conducted by the Sofia Open Society Institute (analyzing the political situation in the country over the course of the June and July months) reveals that the most active participants in the protests tend to be young (aged below 30 years), are based in the capital Sofia, lean to the centre-right or right of the political spectrum and have a higher than average income.[225] The middle class social stratum from Sofia has been singled out as constituting a core of the protest.[226] A generational gap as well as an urban-rural divide have been a feature of the public reactions to the demonstrations, with those residing in non-urban areas and aged over 60 on the whole significantly less supportive of the protests.[227][228][229] Goranova identifies the primacy of economic over political concerns due to poverty, the presence of remnants of feudalist structures in the smaller cities and villages (causing a certain built-in reluctance to protest due to fears of job losses), the significant proportion of elderly people (who have a natural aversion to instability) and the lack of sufficient trust in the youth as some of the reasons for the lacking protest activities outside the major cities.[230] In addition, members of ethnic minority groups are generally not as favorably disposed to the protests,[231] with this finding especially applicable to ethnic Turks and Romani people who typically declare a lesser willingness to participate in demonstrations in comparison to ethnic Bulgarians.[9] A late January 2014 survey conducted by the Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria revealed that one third of their members are adamant that Parliamentary elections need to be held alongside the upcoming European elections.[232] According to a Gallup poll, 43% of Bulgarians regarded the media reporting on the protests as objective, while 30% characterized the electronic and printed media outlets as displaying subjectivity in their coverage. Of the latter respondents, 19% considered the bias to be pro-protest and 11% identified it as pro-government.[233]

International reactions to the protests[edit]

In the first two months (prior to the minor escalation phase of 23–24 July), the protests did not receive significant coverage in international media, especially relative to the more numerous and violent demonstrations in Turkey, Brazil as well as the anti- and post-Morsi unrest in Egypt.[234] The protest activities and messages have been endorsed by prominent European Union politicians such as European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding and also garnered the approval of the French and German ambassadors to Bulgaria, Philippe Autié and Matthias Höpfner.[235] The latter two welcomed Rosen Plevneliev's call for a new morality in politics that is in accordance with European values, also emphasizing that there is a crisis of trust when it comes to the institutions and elites in the country as well as some worrying signs pertaining a concentration of media ownership, which could herald risks for the continued thriving of freedom of speech. The ambassadors praised both the protesters and the Bulgarian police for behaving in a way that is conducive to the peaceful expression of the civil society spirit. In addition, Autié and Höpfner stressed that the "oligarchic model" is not suitable for any country and could only lead to the creation of a "state within a state".[236] Dutch ambassador to Bulgaria Karel van Kesteren has referred to the protests as a "sign of hope" and the first clear instance of civil society rearing its head to clamor for the observance of European values since Bulgaria's accession to the EU. He also expressed disquiet about the role of Attack as well as its ability to influence proceedings and reminded the government that election wins are just one component of democracy that should not be a substitute for responsible governance and lack of secrecy in decision-making. His Belgian counterpart to Bulgaria Anik van Kalster stated that "the best solution [to the crisis of legitimacy] is the one that is widely supported by the society as a whole" and also played down the concerns that Belgian investments in Bulgaria could be negatively affected due to the political uncertainty. In relation to the Peevski situation, she reminded the government of the European Commission's insistence for certain standards to be respected when high-level appointments are made and the need for the primacy of the legal order to remain unchallenged. Van Kalster has lauded the peaceful character of the protests and depicted them as a continuation of the February demonstrations, but with a higher premium placed on ideals and principles rather than economic issues.[237] In June 2013, Hannes Swoboda, President of the group of the S&D in the European Parliament, stated that the Oresharski government deserves support, maintaining that the social measures suggested by the cabinet were necessary for the country. He also commended Stanishev for being forward-looking and having a long record in promoting modernization. However, Swoboda criticized the appointment of Delyan Peevski as well as the decision to elect Volen Siderov as chairman of the Parliamentary commission for fighting corruption, warning the governing BSP party that it would need to go to extra lengths in order to preserve its values and provide a true "left alternative" to the Borisov cabinet (due to the BSP's alliance with the MRF and Ataka). He also emphasized that Bulgaria needs fundamental changes in its political system and urged the government to be constantly engaged in a dialogue with the wider society and prioritize the promotion of political transparency and democratic principles.[238] In Antoniy Galabov's view, PES' support for Stanishev is a risky strategy, as it could negatively affect the electoral fortunes for the European political party in the 2014 European election.[239] The EU has urged BSP and GERB to exhibit cooperative behaviour towards each other.[240] Polish historian and prominent former anti-communist dissident Adam Michnik has been more cautious in his assessment of the protests, stating that the main reason for them is the "lack of a political culture as well as an absence of a culture of compromise", which from his standpoint is still an issue for other Eastern European countries besides Bulgaria because of the effects of communism on the mentality of citizens and the paucity of democratic traditions. He sees the political elites as a reflection of society and emphasizes that in cases when fair elections bring unsympathetic "old [communist] apparatus" members to power, this needs to be accepted, as "democracy should apply to all, not only to those who are intelligent and have perfectly sound moral qualities".[241][242]

Expert opinions[edit]

The demonstrations have been praised for their authenticity in the expression of popular grievances[243] and characterized "as one of the first protest gatherings of a markedly political nature" since the beginning of the post-1989 transition, thus reflective of the sentiment that the governing elite has exhausted its credit of confidence.[244] In contrast to the 1997 anti-government civil disobedience campaign, the protests have been described as "politicized" instead of "particized" because of the impetus for action coming from the protesters themselves rather than the charismatic leadership of influential politicians in opposition.[245] The protests (as well as the previously held anti-austerity demonstrations) have been credited with bringing about the rebirth of civil society in Bulgaria[246][247] and sparking a renewed interest in political issues[248] in addition to an increased awareness of the principles of representative democracy.[249] Political scientist Ivan Krastev regards the protests as successful due to increasing the Bulgarian people's support for democracy and the European Union.[250] According to Vasil Garnizov, as a result of them the government has become more responsive to the voice of the citizens by carefully evaluating public opinion with regard to certain policies (for example, in relation to the possible removal of the restrictions on smoking in eating establishments) and refraining from dabbling with controversial appointments,[251] though some analysts like historian Iskra Baeva caution that the overly generic and all-encompassing nature of the demands coupled with the tendency to deny the legitimacy of all political institutions in the country may not be the best approach for the protesters and is unlikely to yield constructive results.[252] In that regard, former Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov has criticized some of the protesters' tendency to be dismissive of the achievements of the Bulgarian transition since 1989, highlighting that Bulgarian civil society was already alive and kicking between 1996 and 1997.[253] Political scientist Boris Popivanov opines that the mass protests of the initial months have now been replaced by smaller-scale demonstrations that emphasize "creative and artistic elements" as well as "aesthetic provocations", which are not well-understood and difficult to relate to by the wider public.[254] He also characterizes the protests as exhibiting a strong anti-leftist slant, which in his view has enabled the Bulgarian Socialist Party to consolidate its ranks and rally its supporters.[255] The chairman of the Institute for Modern Politics, Borislav Tsekov, concurs with this assessment, viewing the "primitive anti-communism" exhibited by the protesters as almost reminiscent of the spirit of McCarthyism.[256] Left wing journalist Velislava Dyreva, in addition to frowning upon the viscerally anti-communist rhetoric engaged in by the protesters, also believes that the protest lacks focus due to containing at least 10 different protester groups (demonstrating for hugely different reasons) within its ranks.[204] However, the student occupiers have been described as somewhat less eager to jump on the anti-communist bandwagon.[257] Suspicions regarding the increased role played by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party (whose support base is predominantly ethnically Turkish, Muslim Roma and Bulgarian Muslim) in the governance of the country have also been identified as a catalyst for some elements of the protest movement.[258] Petar Mitev notes that despite the fact that there is a significant discrepancy of viewpoints between the government and the presidency, the former would not benefit from a strategy premised on seriously discrediting the latter, as this could lead to general political chaos and embolden the protesters.[259] In November 2013, culturologist Ivaylo Ditchev, in a contribution for Deutsche Welle, analyzed some possible scenarios that could bring about a resignation of the government – his preferred one is a "moral catharsis of Bulgarian society", with students inspiring the support of wide segments of the intelligentsia, who in turn convince a majority of ordinary citizens to join the anti-government wave. A Citizen Forum (reminiscent of the one established in 1989 Czechoslovakia) is to be created and serve as a guarantor for the cleansing of Bulgarian politics – the participants in it will set the tone for political discussions, but refrain from taking part in politics. However, he regards this scenario as rather utopian and draws attention to the more realistic (if increasingly less appealing – from his standpoint – possibilities) – corporate and social issues like those related to health care causing a mass discontent and unions going on strike, triggering a paralysis of the country; "behind the curtain events" within the political echelons themselves, with GERB succeeding in using procedural tools (also with the tacit support of Western allies) to alter the balance of power in the National Assembly; the Attack party withdrawing its support for the government and emerging as the political face of popular protests inspired by nationalist causes (possibly attributable issues like the Syrian refugee crisis or concerns pertaining to the selling of Bulgarian land to foreigners). The latter scenario is regarded as especially problematic and as being incompatible with the underlying goals of the protest movement, because the new Parliament formed after such events would almost inevitably include fascist-leaning parties and would need to contend with significant polarization due to the presence of pro- and anti-European voices.[260] Left wing sociologist Andrey Raychev makes a distinction between "citizen" and "political" protests (with only the anti-Peevski phase of the demonstrations fitting the former definition) and maintains that parties are gradually learning the lesson that they cannot simply "insert themselves" into a demonstration of the citizens, but need to carve out a separate niche.[261] According to a report generated by the "Laboratory for Governing Risks" affiliated to New Bulgarian University, the protesters' refusal to accept any guidance from political figures as well as the general reluctance to add an explicitly political dimension to their actions stifles the potential of their movement.[262] Analysts who tend to be opposed to the protests point out that Bulgarian society is now suffering from a "protest fatigue" and the majority of citizens want the government to be given a chance to implement its policy aims before casting judgment on it. They also downplay the parallels between the present anti-government wave and the 1997 demonstrations that brought down the Zhan Videnov cabinet because of their belief that the current economic and financial climate in Bulgaria could hardly be depicted as being in an acute state of crisis.[263] Political scientist Ivan Nachev suggests that the demonstrations need to be held less frequently, but with a higher turnout, better organization and protest messages that are clearly formulated, so that the protest movement does not fall into the trappings of banalization. He also urges both the government and the protesters to show greater determination to find some sort of a middle ground when engaging in dialogue.[264] German political researcher Daniel Kadick notes that it may be advisable for a protest party to be formed, so that the current status quo in Bulgaria is not recreated after the next elections and in order for the electoral prospects of populist movements like "Bulgaria without censorship" to be reduced.[265] Ognyan Minchev stresses that one of the main reasons behind the lack of legitimacy of the current government is that its coming to power was made possible by the actions of an oligarchic structure (formerly allied to Borisov) which used underhanded maneuvers to discredit GERB (including on the days prior to the parliamentary election), unwittingly aided by the economic grievances against the GERB administration on the part of the citizens. He insists that currently the major issues are connected to Bulgaria being in a political crisis attributable to state capture.[266] Philologist and popular talk show host Iulian Vuchkov has declared his support for the protests, considering them long overdue because of the political passivity of Bulgarians, but has opposed early elections due to his belief that it will take time for a successful "professor party" to be formed, so that it could become a viable election challenger.[267]

Economic assessments[edit]

The security-related expenditures resulting from the protests (encompassing the period from 14 June to late November) have been evaluated as approximating 2 million leva.[268]

On 13 December 2013, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services amended its outlook for Bulgaria from "stable" to "negative", in part due to the political uncertainty that started with the February 2013 protests against the Borisov cabinet (and the still looming possibility of early elections as a result of the current protests against the Oresharski cabinet). However, the country, as of mid December 2013, has retained its 'BBB/A-2' long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings.[269][270]

Controversies associated with the protests[edit]

On 17 June 2013, there were tense scenes between sympathizers of the Attack and anti-government demonstrators close to the headquarters of the nationalists on Vrabcha Street, with some objects being thrown by both sides. The protesters have accused the Attack leadership of betraying the trust of the people and "phony nationalism" by refusing to vote against the formation of a government that includes the MRF.[271] Allegations have surfaced in the media of a small proportion of the protesters and the counter-protesters having received financial incentives in order to attend gatherings in opposition to or in support of the government (see also counter-protest section).[272][273][274] On 30 August 2013, during a Roger Waters concert in Sofia, the protest slogan "Оставка!" ("Resignation!") was displayed on the main screen in red letters. While a number of Bulgarians regarded it as a nice gesture in support of the protests, rapper Mihail Mihaylov, one of the main figures lauding the counter-protesters, voiced sharp criticism, with some elements in favor of the anti-government demonstrations also expressing disapproval due to their belief that the politicization of such public events contradicted some of the values the protest movement was premised upon.[275] The protests have not been spared the involvement of agent provocateurs, some of them supposedly linked to Biser Milanov's "Liberty" national movement[276][277] and Pavel Chernev (former member of Attack and current leader of the "Freedom" party (Bulgarian: партия "Свобода"), who has since distanced himself from Volen Siderov),[278] though both of them have denied any ulterior motivations, with Chernev explaining that his entourage of young men in sporting attire were falsely labeled a provocateur group, when in actuality they had intended to protect the regular protesters from militant members of the Attack.[279] 22 people alleged to have been attempting to disrupt the protests and encourage the commission of illegal acts were detained by the police during the protest activities of 23 June.[280] Psychologists have questioned the developmental effects on children partaking in demonstrations,[186][281] with former Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha being one of the politicians especially critical of the practice, believing it to be contrary to the EU directives on the well-being of the underaged.[282] On 28 October 2013, journalists from the TV7 news channel and Alfa TV (the media anchor of the Ataka party) were prevented from entering the university premises and reporting on the Sofia University occupation by a small number of students, security officers and anti-government demonstrators.[195][283] On 7 November 2013, Asen Genov, an Internet blogging pioneer in Bulgaria and a prominent contributor to "protest network"[284] was arrested (alongside five other peers, four of them DSB activists) for spraypainting parts of the anti-fascist monument in front of the BSP party headquarters on Pozitano Street in Sofia.[285] DSB leader Radan Kynev endorsed the actions of his party members, characterizing them as an appropriate expression of protest views given the existence of a coalition of "former communists and contemporary fascists at the helm of the country".[286] In the evening of 8 November 2013, MP Desislav Chukolov, leader Volen Siderov and some other members and sympathizers of the Ataka party confronted a group of students who had been overheard chanting "Resignation!" near the headquarters of the Bulgarian National Television. In the ensuing commotion, a glass of red wine was spilled on Chukolov's shirt. Five students were subsequently arrested by the police, but were released on the next day without any charges pressed against them, though Chukolov has stated that he may take the matter to the courts.[287] In mid November 2013, some Oresharski statements were interpreted as implying that public servants who take part in protests could be given the sack (which was criticized as anti-constitutional, with GERB referring the matter to the European Commission and the Association for European Integration and Human Rights informing the prosecutor-general of Bulgaria), but the Prime Minister subsequently clarified that only those who protest during their working hours could face the risk of being fired (Bulgarian legal regulations stipulate that civil servants may not engage in political activism in the workplace).[288] On 27 November 2013, the occupying students filmed two professors from Sofia University who were celebrating a birthday and the conferral of a professorship while drinking alcohol on the premises of the university (outside working hours).[289] While some commentators were critical of the academics for setting a bad example and possibly violating university policies, others condemned the students for going overboard in their desire to pontificate about morality and for supposedly being motivated by revanchism (because the two professors had publicly opposed the occupation).[133][290] In January 2014, more than 40 football supporters from various fan clubs were called into police stations to sign protocols stipulating that they will not take part in any social disturbances. This requirement was criticized by prominent members of fan clubs and pro-protest activists as an unnecessary measure motivated by a desire to discourage the ultras' participation in anti-government protests.[291] On 8 January 2014, Attack party deputies entered the Nova TV building and angrily demanded an explanation from protest activists Tsvetozar Valkov and Viktor Stoyanov who were being interviewed by host Milen Tsvetkov. Valkov and Stoyanov were wearing face masks of Volen Siderov and had previously participated in demonstrations in favour of revoking the Attack leader's parliamentary immunity. Nova TV staff emphasized that they had on numerous occasions extended invitations to Attack members to debate with other guests on Tsvetkov's show, but the Attack functionaries had rebuffed them, preferring to go about their endeavour through illegal means.[292][293] On 23 February, a Ukrainian flag was drawn on the Soviet Army monument in Sofia, with one of the soldier statues also painted in yellow and blue colours. A number of pro-Euromaidan messages such as "Слава Україні" ("Glory to Ukraine!") were also scribbled on it. A small anti-Oresharski protester group accompanied by journalist Ivo Indzhev subsequently arrived on the scene.[294] This occurrence drew a sharp reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which demanded that the culprits be identified and punished. Also, the Euronews TV channel's decision to show a photo of the painted monument on its Facebook page was criticized by the Russian ministry as "excessive". Shortly thereafter Euronews removed the image, clarifying that it did not support a particular side between the pro- and anti-government forces in Ukraine, least of all the participants in violent riots, and did not intend to besmirch the memory of Soviet veterans who had fought the Nazi regime invaders during WWII.[295] In March 2014, Atanas Uzunov, former top Bulgarian football referee and a member of GERB, was released from his duties as administrative director of Lokomotiv Plovdiv by owner Konstantin Dinev due to allegedly making use of his position to encourage the supporters of the club to take part in anti-government demonstrations.[296] Plovdiv city councillors from the MRF party expressed satisfaction with the decision, also voicing suspicion that Uzunov may have been indirectly involved in the events of 14 February, when a crowd consisting mostly of football fans had surrounded and caused damage to the Dzhumaya mosque in Plovdiv.[297]

Related developments[edit]

In September, two freelance journalists at Deutsche Welle's Bulgarian desk were released from their contracts. The German media company explained that this was for failing to retain "objectivity, neutrality and balance" in their reporting of the protests. While DW publicly denied this to be linked to a recent letter of complaint from the CCB, opinion pieces in Bulgarian media outlets were predominantly of the opinion that the bank had put pressure on the broadcaster.[298][299][300]

On 25 October, students from Sofia University occupied the central building of the university in downtown Sofia. They demanded immediate government resignation and new elections, as well as rule of law and a prioritization of education. The declaration was publicly read before present media. After that, the entrances to the University were fully blocked and almost all activities at the building ceased. According to students, between 70 and 100 people are present inside and only students are allowed in and out. (noresharski.com[301])

In early December, а student delegation from Bulgaria visited Ukraine in order to voice their support for the Euromaidan participants. The occupying students also revealed that they intend to make a film about the events in the former Soviet republic and have already posted a trailer on Youtube.[302]


'The protester' received the most votes for politician of the year in Bulgaria, while the anti-Oresharski protests have been singled out as the event of the year in the country, based on the annual survey of Darik Radio.[303]


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  83. ^ Bulgarian protesters call for government to resign, Financial Times, 16 June 2013 (subscription required)
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  92. ^ Bulgarian protests continue, is the world watching?
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  105. ^ Bulgaria President Calls for Strengthening Democratic 'Fundamentals' Amid Protests; Move Comes After Anticorruption Demonstrations Turned Violent 24.July.2013 WSJ
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  114. ^ Protests follow the government to the Black Sea coast, Manager.bg, 4 August 2013. Retrieved Oct 2013.
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  122. ^ Constitutional Court leaves Peevski as MP after failing to reach decision, Dnevnik, 8 October 2013. Retrieved 9 Oct 2013.
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  127. ^ Eastern approaches Ex-communist Europe. "Bulgaria: Students on the barricades". The Economist. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
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  134. ^ a b Thousands of students marched in downtown Sofia, Reuters, 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 Nov 2013
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  137. ^ "Скачане върху колата на депутата Кутев: eкшън и на жълтите павета (ексклузивно видео)" (in Bulgarian). videonews.bg. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  138. ^ Protest organized by GERB
  139. ^ a b "МВР брои: 50 000 за БСП, 15 000 за ГЕРБ" (in Bulgarian). dartsnews.bg. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  140. ^ [1] Protest organized by the unions
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  142. ^ "До седмица СУ заработва на пълни обороти" (in Bulgarian). novinar.bg. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  143. ^ Bulgarian Actors against the Government
  144. ^ Resignation on Christmas facebook event
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  146. ^ Protesters in Bulgarian capital city block vehicular movement in front of Council of Ministers
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  153. ^ "Малоброен протест посрещна депутатите, появата на Петното разгневи демонстранти (допълнена)" (in Bulgarian). dnevnik.bg. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
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  155. ^ "Съдът остави Бисер Миланов-Петното в ареста (видео)" (in Bulgarian). dnevnik.bg. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  156. ^ "Борисов: научих за Петното преди година, когато говореше, че ще сваля ГЕРБ, и с Бареков ни свалиха (видео)" (in Bulgarian). dnevnik.bg. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  157. ^ "Йордан Бонев за срещите си с властта" (in Bulgarian). tv7.bg. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  158. ^ Declaration of the Occupying Students
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  161. ^ "Кои са новите окупатори?" (in Bulgarian). Deutsche Welle (Bulgarian edition). 26 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  162. ^ "Не съм съгласен с новите окупатори, обяви един от Ранобудните" (in Bulgarian). news.ibox.bg. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  163. ^ ""Ранобудните" се разграничиха от новата окупация, Ивайло Динев и други студенти я подкрепиха" (in Bulgarian). Dnevnik bg. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
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  165. ^ "Тони Господинов: поискахме подкрепа и от футболните агитки, за да ни защитят от вандализми" (in Bulgarian). dariknews.bg. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  166. ^ "Разчистват Алма матер" (in Bulgarian). standartnews.com. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  167. ^ "Прекратиха окупацията на Софийския университет" (in Bulgarian). news.ibox.bg. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  168. ^ "Инфантилна обществена реакция провали окупацията на СУ, смятат "Ранобудните"" (in Bulgarian). news.ibox.bg. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  169. ^ "Протестиращите срещу Орешарски си учредяват партия" (in Bulgarian). novini.bg. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  170. ^ ""Ранобудните" протестираха срещу увеличението на депутатските заплати" (in Bulgarian). cross.bg. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  171. ^ "Компютърни мишки "летяха" срещу парламента (СНИМКИ И ВИДЕО)" (in Bulgarian). dariknews.bg. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  172. ^ "Участници във февруарските протести отново на улицата" (in Bulgarian). btvnews.bg. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  173. ^ "Участници от февруарските протести повтарят исканията си" (in Bulgarian). vesti.bg. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  174. ^ "Махнаха и последните палатки пред парламента" (in Bulgarian). hashtag.bg. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  175. ^ "Протестърите "откриха сезона" с искане за референдум" (in Bulgarian). news.ibox.bg. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  176. ^ Protests about Environmental Issues
  177. ^ "С Кара дере дърпат спусъка за нови протести" (in Bulgarian). webcafe.bg. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  178. ^ В социалните мрежи вече стягат нови протести срещу номинирането на неуспелия шеф на ДАНС за евродепутат Вестник Сега. 8 April 2014
  179. ^ Кандидатурата на Пеевски за евродепутат провокира нов протест в. Дневник. 9 April 2014
  180. ^ a b "Контрите спират с протестите: Орешарски е бетон!" (in Bulgarian). bnews.bg. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  181. ^ "Специално за отхвърлянето на президентското вето БСП и ДПС си докараха хора от страната срещу антиправителствения протест в София, управляващите използват своите симпатизанти като жив щит срещу опита на протестиращите да окупират НС" (in Bulgarian). mediapool.bg. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  182. ^ "13-ти ден на контрапротест" (in Bulgarian). bnt.bg. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  183. ^ Protest organized by BSP and DPS, comparing it to the one organized by GERB
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  185. ^ "Контрапротестът се пренесе в Нова Загора" (in Bulgarian). 24chasa.bg. 10 August 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  186. ^ a b "Напрежение между протест и контрапротест пред НС. Заседанието започна" (in Bulgarian). radio999bg.com. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  187. ^ "Събраха 384 хил. подписа в подкрепа на Орешарски" (in Bulgarian). manager.bg. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  188. ^ "Барометър – политическите партии в България: юли-септември 2013 (p. 2)" (in Bulgarian). fes.bg. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  189. ^ "Алфа рисърч": недоволството от кабинета расте" (in Bulgarian). segabg.com. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  190. ^ "Плевнелиев: контрапротестът е българска иновация и трябва да се замислим за ефекта му" (in Bulgarian). dnevnik.bg. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  191. ^ Genov 2013, p. 297.
  192. ^ "Протест и контрапротест пред парламента" (in Bulgarian). dariknews.bg. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  193. ^ "2013: Българският театър, трето действие" (in Bulgarian). dariknews.bg. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  194. ^ Smilov & Vaysova 2013, p. 21.
  195. ^ a b Протестна Мрежа 2013, p. 531.
  196. ^ a b "Орешарски се срещна с протестиращите" (in Bulgarian). tv7.bg. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  197. ^ Gochev 2013, p. 294.
  198. ^ "Михаил Михайлов: падне ли правителството, губим демокрацията" (in Bulgarian). duma.bg. 30 July 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  199. ^ "Шамара: Борисов плаща на реформаторите" (in Bulgarian). monitor.bg. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
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  201. ^ Volgin 2013, p. 228.
  202. ^ "Какви са активистите соросоиди?" (in Bulgarian). Ataka newspaper. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  203. ^ "Уестингхаус" подписа договора, протестиращите се кротнаха, правителството – с пълен мандат" (in Bulgarian). hashtag-bg.com. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
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Lilov, Grigor (2013). Най-богатите българи (1st ed.). Sofia: "Кайлас" ЕООД. ISBN 978-954-92098-9-1. 
Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (eds.) (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013 (1st ed.). Sofia: Изток-Запад. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Stoyanov, Hristo (2014). Протестните деца на България (народопсихологии) (1st ed.). Sofia: издателство "Христо" (self-published). ISBN 978-954-92722-5-3. 
Vuchkov, Iulian (2013). България: преди, днес и утре (Мемоарна история на страната 1944–2013) (1st ed.). Sofia: Издателство "Даниела Убенова". ISBN 978-619-90174-1-8. 
Articles and book excerpts
Babikian, Arman (9 July 2013). "Уроци от изборите във Варна". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 379–380. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Bezlov, Tihomir (4 July 2013). "Властта и протестът – кои фактори могат да докарат обрат". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 221–225. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Dimitrov, Ivan; Moskovska, Nadezhda (29 July 2013). "Няма по-малкото зло". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 181–184. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Galabov, Antoniy (24 June 2013). "Атака" говори на висок глас това, което БСП мисли". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 398–400. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Gochev, Georgi (24 July 2013). "Къци, Мишо, неговите фенки и тяхната България". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 293–296. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Ivancheva, Maria (26 July 2013). "Класовата война на България". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 193–194. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Kolarova, Rumyana (1 July 2013). "ГЕРБ имат притеснения за парламентарната си група". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 479–480. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Lambrev, Yovko (1 July 2013). "От блоговете: #ignorevolen е грешка". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 379–380. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Levchev, Vladimir (29 June 2013). "За хулиганите и превратаджиите". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 381–382. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Medarov, Georgi (19 July 2013). "Гражданите срещу задкулисието!". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 71–73. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Nikolov, Toni (15 August 2013). "Театрализация и политика". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 336–339. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Popov, Yulian (24 June 2013). "От блоговете: 7 причини за това защо изборите не проработиха и ще трябва да се повторят". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 458–459. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Simeonov, Parvan (17 July 2013). "ДАНСwithme, млад меринджей". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 204–206. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Simov, Aleksandar (23 June 2013). "Харта 2013 – моят прочит и критика". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 83–87. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (16 December 2013). "Предговор". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 13–23. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Spahiyski, Emil (9 July 2013). "Битът убива протеста". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 341–343. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Volgin, Petar (7 September 2013). "Голямата протестърска измама". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 228–230. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Yanakiev, Kalin (1 July 2013). "Политическото дъно". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 371–375. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Interviews (published)
Boyadzhiev, Tsocho (16 July 2013). "Фотография и протест". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 124–131. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Garnizov, Vasil (15 July 2013). "Протестът дава шанс да се изгради нов институционален ред (интервю на Слав Оков)". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 137–145. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Gyrdev, Yavor (19 June 2013). "Бунт за самоуважение". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 111–117. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Genova, Angelina (18 July 2013). "Да възразиш срещу чуждите планове, или какво прави Правдолюб Иванов през последния месец". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 150–154. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Krastev, Ivan (31 July 2013). "Протестиращите рискуват да останат политически изолирани". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 452–453. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Veleva, Valeriya (15 June 2013). "Интервю на Валерия Велева с Делян Пеевски: "над никого няма да има чадър". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 27–32. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Blog posts and official declarations
Autié, Philippe; Höpfner, Matthias (8 July 2013). "Изявлението на посланиците на Франция и Германия: доброто държавно управление е в интерес на всички". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 365–367. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Genov, Asen (16 August 2013). "Протест, контрапротест, манифестация...". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 297–298. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Swoboda, Hannes (24 June 2013). "ПЕС и Ханес Свобода". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 150–154. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Протестна Мрежа (21 September 2013). "100-те успеха на протеста". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 525–531. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
Opinion polls
Галъп (1 August 2013). "Данни на Галъп". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 323–324. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 
НЦИОМ (15 July 2013). "Данни на НЦИОМ". In Smilov, Daniel; Vaysova, Lea (2013). #Протестът. Анализи и позиции в българската преса. Лято 2013. Изток-Запад. pp. 313–315. ISBN 978-619-152-351-1. 

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