Bulgaria’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov has once again caused mass outrage, this time over his highly controversial statements against the country’s Roma minority. Karakachanov, who is also Bulgaria’s defence minister, is now facing demands that he resign.
Karakachanov and fellow leaders of the far-right United Patriots have repeatedly embarrassed their coalition partner, the senior ruling Gerb party.
Previously, Karakachanov’s colleague Valeri Simeonov was forced to resign after calling mothers campaigning for better treatment of their disabled children “a group of shrill women who speculated with their children, manipulated society, taking out in the streets those allegedly ill children in hot weather and rain”, provoking outrage in Bulgaria.
Karakachanov said that the Roma minority in Bulgaria “have become extremely insolent and the patience of Bulgarian society has ended”. His statement came after in the town of Voyvodino a soldier was severely beaten by members of the Roma community. The soldier is still in hospital.
While the police are investigating the incident and several people have been arrested, Karakachanov’s statement sparked protests against the Roma minority. This has raised serious concerns among rights groups.
“Persecution of entire groups of people identified by their ethnicity because of acts of their members is illegal. It is characteristic of the fascist ideology and the regimes under its control,” the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) said in a Facebook post, calling on people to sign a petition demanding Karakachanov’s dismissal.
Meanwhile, the police have started destroying the homes of the Roma minority in the village that they claim were built illegally. According to the BHC, the destruction was executed in violation of the law and in an inhumane manner as the police broke into houses without residents’ agreement, taking out their property and destroying their homes without waiting for the 14-day deadline in which they can object.
The rising tensions have forced the Roma minority in the village to abandon their homes without taking any clothes or property as they were afraid of possible violence. The BHC noted that these people were the victims of a collective punishment because of the actions of two specific individuals who are already facing trial.
It also noted that the people who were left homeless have not received adequate protection from the state, and the authorities did not made sure they have somewhere to go in the cold winter.
Karakachanov, meanwhile, claimed he was the “victim” of the Roma people after a claim against him was filed with the commission for protection against discrimination.
The scandal comes at a time when polls show that all state institutions in Bulgaria have lost popularity, with the parliament being approved by just 8% of people, according to a recent poll by Alpha Research. The support for the government was not much better – just 17%, while 45% do not approve of it. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is also losing support with 30% backing him, while 37% do not approve of his work. Karakachanov is backed by 16.3% of those polled.
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