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Bulgarians Vow To Continue Protests Against Government Corruption


Bulgarian President Rumen Radev speaks at a protest on July 10.

Thousands of Bulgarians held a fourth day of protests in Sofia and several other cities on July 12 against government corruption and said more similar rallies are scheduled to take place July 13 ahead of another nationwide protest later in the week.

Thousands of people filled a central area in Sofia near the presidency and the Council of Ministers demanding the resignation of the conservative government. Protests also took place in Burgas, Plovdiv, Varna, Blagoevgrad, and Gabrovo, according to a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter.

In Sofia, Burgas, and Varna, the protests turned into marches, with people shouting "Resign!," "Mafia!," and demanding the ouster of Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev.

The protests were sparked by a raid on July 9 by the Prosecutor-General's Office on the presidential headquarters.

President Rumen Radev's legal affairs and anti-corruption secretary and his security and defense adviser were detained for questioning and their offices searched as part of two separate probes into influence-peddling and disclosure of state secrets.

Demonstrations

The searches sparked public anger and brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of Sofia to condemn the raids as an attack by the government and the prosecutor-general against Radev.

Radev responded two days later by calling on the government and the prosecutor-general to step down.

The searches came after Radev said the National Protection Service (NSO) -- which is responsible for guarding the president, prime minister, and other high officials -- should stop protecting Ahmed Dogan, the honorary chairman of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS).

Protesters were also angered when people were barred from a state beach located near Dogan’s summer residence. Access to the beach was restored on July 11 under pressure from the center-right Democratic Bulgaria opposition.

Radev is an outspoken critic of the cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, accusing it of "links with oligarchs."

Borisov has refused to resign but opponents launched an online petition aiming to gather as many as 1 million signatures to demand his ouster.

The Socialist opposition in parliament also said on July 12 that they would propose a no-confidence motion against the cabinet for "corruption" on July 15 and appealed to protesters to back them. The protesters say their nationwide demonstration will take place the next day.

With reporting by dpa
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