1st UPDATE: 6:15 p.m. EST: Vesti provides additional details on what is taking place inside Bulgaria.
Varna has just become the symbol of this reality, and it wasn’t born yesterday. The resignation of the mayor [announced on March 6] means nothing by now. What matters is that the people continue to demand more transparency and the supremacy of the rule of law. The residents of Varna have understood that. And this is what makes their revolt very different from those in Sofia, where protesters brandish exotic and, sometimes, contradictory demands.
The rule of law for which the people of this struggling coastal town are struggling includes, however, a thorough and independent investigation into the death of Plamen Goranov. We owe him that much.
Six years after joining the EU, governance in Bulgaria remains deeply dysfunctional and graft ridden, despite efforts in Brussels to force Sofia to clean up its act. It is the bloc’s second most corrupt member, says Transparency International.
“Our compatriots make clear they want simple things – they want decent politicians, they don’t want to be robbed, they do not want to be lied to, and they want to live good lives,” President Rosen Plevneliev said in a speech last week.
With next month’s elections almost certainly heading for a hung parliament and raising questions over economic stability, those aspirations are unlikely to be met any time soon.
ORIGINAL POST: Reuters has the details of a country gripped in political debate.
The mayor of the Bulgarian city of Varna resigned on Wednesday under public pressure after the death of a man who set himself on fire there last month, the latest politician felled by protests that have already toppled the government.
Plamen Goranov, a 36-year-old artist, became the symbol of protests against low living standards when he doused himself in petrol and set himself alight on February 20 to demand the resignation of Varna Mayor Kiril Yordanov.
Goranov died of his injuries on Sunday.
The protests, sparked by high power prices but spreading due to wider dissatisfaction with the state of the country, highlight the issues of governance, the rule of law and corruption still plaguing Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member, six years after it joined the bloc.
Yordanov served 13 years as mayor of Varna and protesters accused him of improper ties with a powerful group of businesses that they say exerts control over Bulgaria’s third largest city, which lies on the Black Sea coast.
Yordanov denied any wrongdoing and said he resigned under public pressure because his reputation had been damaged.