- “We do not think we should live as slaves, we should live a normal life,” said Kostadin Kostadinov, chairman of Revival.
- According to the police, the protest represented "a brutal violation of measures against the epidemic", according to which large gatherings of people are prohibited.
- Bulgaria's lockdown has been less strict compared to other European countries.
More than 2,000 people demonstrated in Sofia today to protest the confinement of the Bulgarian population. Organized by a far-right opposition party, accused the Bulgarian government of imposing “unnecessary” measures in its attempts to combat the new coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Composed of a crowd that waved Bulgarian national flags, and that did not comply with any social distance measures, the demonstration ended with some incidents with the police forces and the arrest of eight people. The local media reported the protest was organized in the center of the Bulgarian capital.
The Thursday demonstration was called by the Bulgarian radical right Revival party. “We do not think we should live as slaves, we should live a normal life,” said Kostadin Kostadinov, chairman of Revival. “Оur patience is over and we want this government to go.”
Though it was largely peaceful, many people were detained following their attempt to break through a police cordon near the country’s parliament. According to the police, the protest represented “a brutal violation of measures against the epidemic,” according to which large gatherings of people are prohibited.
This is the first public protest after Bulgaria’s government introduced a state of emergency two months ago. The state of emergency led to the closure of schools, restaurants, and bars. The move also led many businesses in the country to limit or halt their operations altogether, thanks to the restrictions and low demand for their goods.
Bulgaria began to ease the lockdown in late April, but authorities still dictate that social distancing should be observed in public places, and its borders have remained closed. During the protest, demonstrators classified the COVID-19 disease as an “international conspiracy” that aims to “scare the population and keep them submissive.”
Slogans and accusations like “resignation,” “mafia,” or “assassins,” were chanted by protesters against the Bulgarian government. The confinement in Bulgaria, which was less strict compared to other European countries, began to be eased about a week ago, with the reopening of the esplanades of cafes and restaurants.
Circulation between the country’s major cities is also possible. With 2,100 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus infection and 99 fatalities, Bulgaria, a country with seven million inhabitants, has been little affected at this stage by the pandemic compared to other countries in Europe.
The unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 disease have fueled conspiracy theories in many countries, and many of them gain dimension through social media networks, according to experts. Other movements against confinement have already prompted protests in several other countries worldwide.
Since the new coronavirus was detected in China in December last year, the COVID-19 disease pandemic has claimed more than 297,000 lives and infected more than 4.3 million people in 196 countries and territories worldwide. More than 1.5 million patients have since been considered cured.
After Europe succeeded China as the center of the pandemic in February, the American continent now has the most confirmed cases (1.88 million versus 1.81 million on the European continent), although with fewer deaths (113,000 against 161,000).