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Oppositon Deputies in Bulgaria Support Anti-government Protest

Sofia, June 7 (NCA/) - Bulgarian opposition deputies went to work in parliament by taxi today.

Police in Sofia had surrounded the parliament building and had closed nearby streets to thwart a protest by Sofia cab drivers against an 80 percent increase in fuel prices.

About 50 deputies from three opposition groups showed up as taxi passengers, showed their credentials, and ordered the police to let the cabs pass.

At one point, some deputies and the police struggled physically in the police line. Protesters carried one police car away by hand to open a street. Nobody was reported injured.

Parliament Speaker Blagovest Sendov, a member of the governing Socialist Party, dominated by former communists, ordered the police blockade.

Sofia Mayor Stephen Sofianski, an opposition member, showed up today at the line and ordered the police to let the taxis through.

The cab drivers' demonstration is one of a number of anti-government protests across Bulgaria in recent days ignited by austerity measures, including tax hikes and price increases.

The austerity measures were implemented in exchange for a loan from the International Monetary Fund to help Bulgaria pay its large foreign debt.

The demonstrators have included monarchist groups, chanting the name of King Simeon, Bulgaria's long-exiled former moncarch who is touring the country.

Two major trade unions have called for nationwide strikes to coincide with a no-confidence vote scheduled next week in parliament.