site.btaUPDATED PM Denkov Ready to Resign if Interior Minister Fails to Acknowledge Police Violence during Thursday’s Protests

PM Denkov Ready to Resign if Interior Minister Fails to Acknowledge Police Violence during Thursday’s Protests
PM Denkov Ready to Resign if Interior Minister Fails to Acknowledge Police Violence during Thursday’s Protests
PM Denkov at the news conference (BTA Photo)

“If the Interior Minister does not recognize this as violence deserving severe penalties, including clarifying why this happens periodically in the police and how to get rid of it, yes, I will resign,” said here on Monday Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov at the Council of Ministers, commenting on the recent cases of police violence against civilians. He was speaking at a news conference after a meeting on the measures to tackle aggression and violence.

Football fans gathered last Thursday around the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia to protest against the leadership of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU). The protest turned violent, leading to clashes with the police. Deputy Interior Minister Stoyan Temelakiev was sacked from his post and there were calls for Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov’s resignation by Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Vice President Iliana Iotova. Stoyanov said Sunday that his resignation has not been requested by the Prime Minister yet.

The vast majority of police officers provided security during the protest in an exemplary fashion, but those who used batons and were beating for no reason people on the ground have no place in the ranks of the police, Denkov said. These officers damage the police’s reputation and have no place there, he added.

Denkov summarized the results of the meeting about violence, held earlier at the Council of Ministers, and said that significant progress has been made in a number of fields relevant to the topic.

One is about the establishment of a national council for prevention and protection from domestic violence. The second one is that for the first time a structure has been created at the Interior Ministry to protect the victims of domestic violence. Officers there are trained to be able to help people. The third one is that for the first time a memorandum of cooperation has been signed between the ministries of the interior, justice and the national legal assistance bureau, which allows for each domestic violence victim to get free legal assistance. Two more crisis centres have been created, which brings their total number to 31 with a capacity to accommodate 348 women and children victims of domestic violence.

“I cannot accept to be prime minister in a government that beats people up in the streets, the way it used to happen before,” Denkov also said. According to him, it is obvious that part of police officers consider it normal to “go out and beat children, defenceless people, women with batons”. “We cannot possibly keep silent about that anymore,” he added. Denkov said he has already talked about this with Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel. 

Asked what Defence Minister Stoyanov needs to do, Denkov said he expects the Minister to publicly condemn all forms of violence not caused by the specific person, because there are instigators against whom violence should be used. Secondly, there should be an investigation into all these cases to clarify who has been where. Thirdly, it should become clear whether the rules have been violated or not, because some police officers were not wearing identification insignia; if that is not allowed by the law, it should be clarified who has allowed it. If that is someone at a leader’s position, they should bear the consequences; there should be adequate punishments.

The Prime Minister also said that his attitude towards Stoyanov will depend on the Interior Minister’s attitude towards violence. “If action is taken and the police officers responsible for the violence leave the Interior Ministry’s systems, I will not have problems with him,” Denkov said. However, there will be problems if Stoyanov continues to gloss the situation over, the Prime Minister added.

A new deputy interior minister has not been appointed, Denkov said. Stoyan Temelakiev’s removal from the post was not planned, but after what happened, he had to bear responsibility. Commenting on the five police officers from Thursday’s protest who are being investigated for violence against citizens, Denkov said that those who think violence against peaceful citizens is normal should leave the Interior Ministry. There clearly is a systematic problem that needs to be solved, and it cannot be solved if the Minister underestimates it. “I firmly want to hear his opinion on what happened; I have not heart it yet,” Denkov underscored.

Asked whether Minister Stoyanov is a man of GERB-UDF or Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, Denkov said he will comment on the topic once he is no longer in office. 

/RY/

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By 10:35 on 14.04.2024 Today`s news

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