The “Poison Trio”, one of the groups of organisers of anti-government protests in Bulgaria, said on November 1 that it was changing from public to “other forms of resistance”, citing the Covid-19 crisis in the country and what it said were its successes in “awakening” Bulgarian society.
The announcement was posted on Facebook on the 116th consecutive night of protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev. It came at the end of a week that saw 13 274 new active cases, and Bulgaria’s health care system struggling to cope with treatment of Covid-19 patients.
The message came on the day that Bulgaria’s celebrates the Day of the Enlighteners, first marked in the early 20th century in honour of those who inspired – “awoke” – the development of Bulgarian educational, cultural and spiritual life.
“Today…we can report that we awoke 67 per cent of the citizens of Bulgaria, that we awoke the world media about corruption in the country, that the government has lost 400 000 votes – so far,” the Facebook post said.
“We have awoken the European Parliament,” the statement said, in reference to a harshly critical resolution weeks before about the state of the rule of law in Bulgaria.
“Bulgaria will never again be the same ugly hole into which people’s dreams, justice, work and money sink. The only ones we couldn’t wake up were Borissov, Geshev and the close clique around them.”
The statement said that the protests had achieved “the unthinkable” and the time had come to “change and upgrade” them.
The “Poison Trio” – Arman Babikyan, Velislav Minekov and Nikolai Hadzhigerov – said that the other important reason to transform the evenings of protest into other forms of resistance was that “we must preserve the ability of Bulgarian doctors and nurses to cope with the wave of (Covid-19) patients”.
“We are making this move out of respect for our white-coated rescuers and in disgust with mafia power.
“We consider it hypocritical to criticise the ruined health system and at the same time create a risk of infection, even for one of you.”
The group said that it would continue to tour the country and form committees, to recruit volunteers from all over Bulgaria and abroad.
“We will continue the revelations about the power of the mafia. We will continue our joint work to protect the votes of Bulgarian citizens.”
The protests, also involving groups such as those from Hristo Ivanov’s Democratic Bulgaria and other extra-parliamentary formations, have continued nightly for more than three months, though in contrast to the outset, attendance has thinned amid colder weather and concerns about the spread of the virus, which has risen sharply in recent weeks. Reports frequently have pointed out that the protests saw little in the way of mask-wearing and scant social distancing.
Borissov and Geshev, both currently in quarantine, after the Prime Minister tested positive and the Prosecutor-General was confirmed to be a contact person of a family member who tested positive, each have ruled out resigning. Opinion polls have seen the approval rating of Borissov’s government plummet.
A key demand of the protests has been the calling of early parliamentary elections. If the schedule is kept to, Bulgaria will go to the polls in late March 2021.