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Anti-Government Protesters In Bulgaria Restore Blockades Removed By Police

Anti-government protesters have occupied downtown Sofia in recent days.
Anti-government protesters have occupied downtown Sofia in recent days.

Anti-government protesters in Bulgaria have restored their traffic blockades in downtown Sofia, less than a day after they were removed by police.

Some 5,000 protesters gathered in the capital for a 30th consecutive evening on August 7, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's conservative government over corruption.

The protesters had occupied three major crossroads in downtown Sofia since July 29 and August 1 as part of the biggest protest wave in years in the EU's poorest country. Blockades had also been set up in Plovdiv and the Black Sea port of Varna, severely disrupting traffic.

Police moved to remove the protesters’ tents on August 7 and warned that no more blockades would be tolerated.

However, demonstrators in Sofia set up fresh tent camps at three major crossroads overnight, buttressing them with cordons of large garbage containers, park benches, and concrete street flowerpots.

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Despite their earlier warning, police didn’t intervene.

Protesters accuse both the government and the chief prosecutor of protectionism and dependence on behind-the-scenes oligarchs.

Borisov on August 5 suggested he might take a back seat as prime minister to keep his government in power until its mandate expires in March 2021, but the government coalition decided the next day that Borisov should keep his post.

Latest polls showed severely dented support for Borisov and his conservative GERB party.

Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, remains its poorest and most corrupt member, according to Transparency International's corruption perception index.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

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