Police Remove Tent Camps Blocking Traffic at Busy Junctions in Sofia, 12 Persons Detained
August 7 (BTA) - At 4:30 a.m. on Friday, police removed the tent camps blocking vehicular traffic at three busy junctions in Sofia. The law enforcers used loudspeakers to order the protestors to leave the carriageway, Commissioner Toni Todorov, Deputy Chief of Security Police at the Metropolitan Directorate of the Interior, told an extraordinary news briefing on Friday morning.
The camps are part of countrywide protests that have been staged for a month now, demanding the resignation of the Boyko Borissov Cabinet and Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev.
Only one person refused categorically to comply and was coercively removed from the carriageway at Eagles Bridge without handcuffs.
Twelve persons, including protest organizer Arman Babikyan and activist Manol Glishev, were detained during the police operation. Eight of them refused to obey police orders and are being issued with written statements, and three were apprehended because they did not carry identity cards. All detainees have been released from custody.
Todorov said that the decision to remove the tents was taken because the discontent with the traffic obstruction could be vent against both law enforcers and protestors and could lead to an escalation of tensions. Over the last week, the Sofia Police has received hundreds of complaints about the three blockades, including one signed by 420 people. The complainants argued that the protest violated their right to freedom of movement.
The Commissioner said that the Interior Ministry respects and guarantees citizens' constitutional right to protest peacefully in defence of their rights, but this cannot be done at the cost of a gross violation of the rights of the rest of the people. "We have ensured the right to free movement of all citizens who dissent with the protestors," Todorov said.
He specified that police will no longer tolerate the blocking of vehicular traffic by protestors at key road junctions.
Earlier in the day, protest organizer Nikolay Hadjigenov told bTV that the road blockades will be back at even more locations, across the country. "We expect people to become furious at long last. On the 30th day of the protest, corruption decided to take things into its own hands because, obviously, we so much stand in its way," he commented. RI/LG