Bulgarian protests see return of violence

By bne IntelliNews November 13, 2013

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Bulgaria's anti-government protests marked their 152nd consecutive day on November 12 with a return to a more violent format. However, the eruption appears to have been relatively brief and police had restored order by the evening.

Demonstrators have convened each day at the parliament as part of a rolling campaign to dislodge the Socialist Party-backed government, which took power earlier this year after inconclusive snap elections in May. That vote was prompted by the resignation of the centre-right minority government led by Boyko Borisov, an event which itself came in the face of large protests.

Early on November 12, an attempt by the crowd to occupy the parliament building resulted in clashes with police. The protesters, many of whom were students participating in the sit-in at the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, tried to prevent MPs leaving the building following a session, according to Novinite. The campaign at the university has been ongoing for three weeks.

Later in the day, the protesters tore down the metal railings that now surround parliament, seeking to get closer to the building. Riot police pushed them back, and by evening the barriers were back in place. The protests this year have been largely peaceful, but occasionally flare into violence. However, Novinite reports that groups of provocateurs had joined the crowd, and instigated attacks against the police with bottles and stones.

Clashes between police and demonstrators were then reported around 9:30pm, as the authorities brought in reinforcements and began to aggressively push the crowd away from the square in front of parliament. Some demonstrators were reportedly beaten and dragged away, and photos showed at least one man with his face bloodied.

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