"Tomato revolution" gains momentum in Bulgaria

SOFIA Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:54am IST

A disabled man pushes himself on his wheelchair in front of the Bulgarian Parliament building in Sofia October 21, 2010. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/Files

A disabled man pushes himself on his wheelchair in front of the Bulgarian Parliament building in Sofia October 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov/Files

Related Topics

SOFIA (Reuters) - Hundreds of Bulgarians, inspired by a shaggy-haired poet, protested in front of parliament on Saturday, some of them throwing tomatoes in what they are calling a "tomato revolution" against corruption.

Waving banners saying "Stop political hypocrisy", the protesters were kept too far away from parliament by police to hit the building. But they vowed their protests would grow ahead of a parliamentary election due next July.

"This is only the beginning of the protests," dissident Nikolay Kolev, also known as "Bosiya" (The Barefooted), said.

The 61-year-old poet, imprisoned several times during the communist regime, had already been detained briefly on Tuesday after throwing a tomato at the parliament building in the capital Sofia.

"I wanted to give an example of how to protest," he said.

Last week Kolev sent a letter to parliament, leading political figures, the Supreme Judicial Council, state TV and radio, threatening to throw tomatoes at their buildings and saying they were responsible for widespread corruption, crime and lack of media freedom in Bulgaria.

"I can no longer remain a hostage to hope and good manners. Go to hell!" Kolev wrote at the end of his letter.

Corruption and organised crime blight Bulgaria 23 years after the end of communist rule, hindering growth and delaying its entry into the European Union's Schengen agreement, which allows passport-free travel between countries.

Bulgarians gave about 150,000 bribes to civil servants every month in 2011, exceeding the number in the previous year as a government effort to curb corruption faltered, a survey showed in September.

Living standards in Bulgaria remain among the EU's lowest, while the jobless rate rose to 11 percent in October.

Thousands protested last Saturday against the government's handling of the weak economy and also called on the ruling GERB party to resign.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Documentary Banned

Documentary Banned

Documentary on 2012 Delhi gang rape banned in India.  Full Article 

RBI Rate Cut

RBI Rate Cut

RBI surprises with post-budget rate cut.  Full Article 

Beef Ban

Beef Ban

After beef ban, Hindu groups force abattoirs to close   Full Article 

Insurance Reforms

Insurance Reforms

Opposition support bolsters prospects for insurance reforms.  Full Article 

Axed by Censors

Axed by Censors

India's censor blocks 'Fifty Shades of Grey' from cinemas.  Full Article 

Bollywood Focus

Bollywood Focus

Franchise Man swoops in to save Bollywood.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India expects better monsoon rains this year.  Full Article 

Reuters Interview

Reuters Interview

Budget lacks wow, but good enough: Jim O’Neill.  Full Article 

Slim Chances

Slim Chances

Dozens of miners missing, feared dead after blast in east Ukraine.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage