Thousands took to the streets of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia on Wednesday to demand the resignation of longtime Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The rally was marred by clashes between demonstrators and police.
The protest outside the parliament building started peacefully, with people carrying Bulgarian flags and chanting, “resign” and “mafia,” referring to the PM’s alleged ties to the country’s influential oligarchs.
But after dark, some tried to break through to the parliament, which was heavily guarded by officers in full riot gear. Demonstrators threw firecrackers and other objects, including eggs, apples, and garbage, at the cops. They also shook police cars and used pepper spray against the police, with around a hundred officers affected.
Police retaliated by deploying a water cannon and making more than 60 arrests. Forty-five people, including officers, were treated in hospitals following the clashes, according to health officials.
Wednesday’s demonstration was the largest since the eruption of anti-government protests in the country two months ago. It took place on the day when MPs returned to work after summer recess to debate constitutional amendments proposed by Borissov.
The opposition denounced the proposals, saying the three-time prime minister was trying to use the vote on amendments to prolong his stay in office. They insist that Borissov must go, as he has failed to fight corruption, which is plaguing the country and preventing economic development.