Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bulgaria Protests: True People Power or NGO Operation?

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Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

Once again tensions are beginning to rise in Bulgaria after 4,000 protesters recently gathered outside government buildings in Sofia calling for an end to what they have deemed the “reign of the oligarchy.” The demands of the demonstrators include the resignation of the Prime Minister and his Socialist-backed government as well as an “end to corruption in politics.”

Among the signs seen carried by protesters were slogans such as "Down with the mafia," "We stay, you emigrate," and “24 years of sham democracy is enough.” The latter slogan is a reference to the removal from power of Todor Zhivkov, a Communist dictator who led Bulgaria from 1954 to 1989. November 10, 2013 was the 24th anniversary of Zhivkov’s ouster.

According to the AFP, the recent spate of protests were organized by teachers and students from approximately a dozen different universities who have been demonstrating in Bulgaria for the past two weeks in hopes of reigniting the “anti-government” fervor that was so prevalent earlier this year.

The previous protests, much larger in scale and often numbering in the hundreds of thousands, were initially set off by austerity measures and the result of privatization schemes that would have caused electricity costs to skyrocket. In combination with high unemployment, systemic government corruption, and economic stagnation, the rise in prices of electricity was the catalyst to send such a large number of determined demonstrators into the streets demanding the reversal of privatization policies and the resignation of the government.

Thus, in February, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov resigned as a result of the protests. He was replaced by the Bulgarian Socialist party and a political party representing ethnic Turks in a fragile minority government coalition led by current Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski.

Only a few months afterward, the Bulgarian Parliament appointed Delyan Peevski as the head of the State Agency for National Security. This act alone caused a reaction of disgust and anger amongst many Bulgarians which resulted in an immediate resumption of mass protests and demonstrations. This is because Peevski is largely viewed as the epitome of the problem in Bulgaria – nepotism, corruption, abuse of power, and political thuggery.
Peevski’s family owns 40% of the print industry in Bulgaria and his mother is the owner of the national lottery. Peevski himself is involved with the administration of the media empire belonging to his family. He had been appointed to political positions once before, when he was made Deputy Minister of Disaster Management Policy but was removed from that position due to corruption and scandal.

 After the demonstrations resumed, Peevski resigned. However, the protesters remained in the streets to demand early elections, not so much angered by the individuals in elected positions as much as angered at the state of the entire political system.

These demonstrations, which also numbered in the hundreds of thousands, prompted violence to break out between demonstrators and police with members of both groups being injured when all was said and done. Ever since the height of the protests, Bulgarians have been protesting in the streets of Sofia with varying numbers of participants.

As of late, however, protest attendance has been waning, hence the staging of what organizers hope to be a fresh infusion of anti-corruption fervor and a shot in the arm to the Bulgarian protest movement.

Still, the Bulgarian protest movement’s demands are somewhat unclear and undefined. Beyond the resignation of the Prime Minister and vague calls for “accountability” and an “end to corruption,” the movement appears to lack everything except anger and dissatisfaction. Such movements are always easy prey for those who would seek to co-opt them, much like the Occupy movement in the United States was co-opted very early on by Foundations, NGOs, and other nefarious actors seeking to use hordes of swarming adolescents to advance their own agendas.

Indeed, such co-opting is already beginning to take place in Bulgaria where organizations and NGOs are already “siding with the people” and attempting to foist their agenda onto the protesters as if they were the demands of the movement and the Bulgarian people all along. That is, if the protesters were not arranged by the NGOs from the beginning, a possibility which is still unclear even five months after the initial protests.

Clearly, however, Bulgarians have a legitimate complaint. Bulgaria remains the poorest state in the European Union and, as the worldwide economic depression entrenches itself across the globe, the situation only appears to be getting worse. IMF-style austerity programs and privatization schemes (electricity is provided by private companies, many of whom are based outside the country) are still implemented in order to loot what little Bulgaria has left in the public coffers. To make matters worse, the country is plagued with a deep-seated corruption that runs from the top of the national government down to the smallest local level, making change all but impossible. In addition, the burden of anti-logical CO2 Credits has contributed to the economic plight of Bulgarians and rising energy prices.

Regardless, Anglo-American NGOs are clearly at work in Bulgaria, despite the amount of knowledge we may have in terms of their influence and direction. Organizations like the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Access to Information Programme, and the Institute for Market Economics have all attached themselves to the mass movement, and “joined the protesters and supported their demands with declarations.” The organizations made a joint declaration to the Parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria on June 14 in opposition to the appointment of Peevski with calls for “a new transparent and fair appointment procedure.”

Both the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and Access To Information Programme are closely associated with George Soros’ Open Society Institute and derivatives of that organization. BHC also receives sizeable donations from USAID, a notorious American intelligence front organization designed to foment cultural and political destabilization in foreign countries.[1]

The Institute for Market Economics also works closely with the Open Society Institute as well as Freedom House, National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, and the World Bank. Ironically, the IME is a neo-liberal organization which promotes the insane austerity methods of the Austrian school of economics and the privatization of public services at vastly increased costs to the consumer and the average Bulgarian. Indeed, the irony is that the protests were originally set off as a result of skyrocketing electricity bills due to just such a privatization scheme. Now, the IME wishes to attach itself to the Bulgarian movement and push one of the very plans which prodded mass numbers of people into the streets earlier this year.

Undoubtedly, such organizations as the IME, BHC, and AIP will rally support by railing against the Communist holdovers still operating in Bulgarian government structures -- an easy sell since the corruption and repression of the ruling Communists were evident enough in every strata of society. Indeed, forced labor camps remained in existence in Bulgaria under Communist rule well into the late 1980s.[2]

However, while the widespread corruption of current Bulgarian officials must be dealt with by the Bulgarian people and real demands must be made, Bulgarians would be wise to avoid any and all association with the aforementioned organizations. Failure to do so will not only wrest control of their own movement away from them, it will undoubtedly bring something much worse in the long run than the current political scene.


[1] Tarpley, Webster Griffin. Obama: The Postmodern Coup-Making Of A Manchurian Candidate. Progressive Press. June. 2008.
[2] Todorov, Tzvetan; (tr. Robert Zaretsky) (1999). Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria. University Park, PA: Penn State Press.

Recently by Brandon Turbeville:
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

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