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Bulgaria: Opposition Calls For New Protests In Sofia

Sofia, 8 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Opponents of Bulgaria's ruling Socialists have called for a protest rally today in front of the party's headquarters in downtown Sofia.

Earlier plans to encircle the parliament in a "human chain" have now been postponed until Friday.

Our correspondent says that for the first time, the anti-Communist trade union Podkrepa is expected to join the anti-government protest. The union is one of Bulgaria's two major labor unions.

Sofia has witnessed a series of opposition demonstrations in the past few days. Protestors are seeking early parliamentary elections and other measures aimed at rescuing Bulgaria's wrecked economy.

Our Sofia correspondent reports tens of thousands of Bulgarians rallied yesterday in Varna, Burgas, Gabrovo and a small group in front of Bulgarian Socialist Party headquarters in Sofia.

The leader of the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), Ivan Kostov, urged restraint by the demonstrators. And, Kostov noted a vote expected Friday in Parliament on the opposition-sponsored "national salvation plan." The demand voiced at the growing rallies -- and addressed in the plan -- is for early parliamentary elections.