Standart News

Bulgaria MONDAY, 26 September 2011

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A Wave of Protests Spreads from Katunitsa to Varna

The village is tightly secured by police and gendarmerie officers, Facebook users have created over 100 groups against the Roma clan

Rallies spanning all over Bulgaria. This is how people react to the assassination of 19-year-old Angel Petrov and the death of his friend 16-year-old Pavel Tolev in the village of Katunitsa, southeastern Bulgaria. Mothers and motor bikers spontaneously organized themselves via Facebook and spilled out in protests in the streets in the major Bulgarian cities of Sofia, Plovdiv, Pazardjik and Varna. Thousands of bikers zoomed in hordes into Katunitsa directly from their gathering in the town of Sopot.
Protesters insist on laws being applied equally to all. For the last twelve hours nearly a hundred groups have been formed in Facebook sympathizing with the deaths in Katunitsa and some of them of clear anti-Roma intents.   
Katunitsa will become a Kosovo and blood will be shed, people in the village talked yesterday early morning.
The most of the men who took part in the protests on Saturday spent the night in the pub without drinking a sip discussing how to stop the harassment by the Romani clan of the so-called Tsar Kiro that had now taken two lives.
For two days now the village of Katunitsa looks like in war time. Heavily armed police and gendarmerie are literally at every two steps in the otherwise peaceful village. The reason is the inter-ethnic conflict that has been smouldering for twenty years.
Angel Petrov was killed by one of Tsar Kiro?s men and his friend Pavel died as his heart could not bear the stress. Everything started with a quarrel between teenagers, as Angel started an argument with relatives of Kiril Rashkov, also known as Tsar Kiro.
Since the row was over Angel, who lived near one of Rashkovs’ mansions, was reportedly receiving death threats throughout the day.
In the evening the boys were outside, when an orange van, owned by the Rashkovs, appeared out of the blue. The Roma men who got off the vehicle started an argument with the boys in the street. To unconfirmed information, Tsar Kiro’s men were ethnically insulting the Bulgarian boys. At some point, the 55-year-old driver of the bus, whose name is kept secret by the police for security reasons, stepped on the gas and ran over Angel, who died on the spot, and then drove off. A police patrol soon arrived on the scene and, within just a few minutes, an angry crowd besieged Kiril Rashkov’s house. All of a sudden a black BMW and a large SUV, apparently owned by the Rashkovs, headed right into the gathered people, injuring two youths and some police offers, and drove off. Among those who gathered on the scene was 16-year-old Pavel, who collapsed and died of cardiac arrest at the dire sight.
A wave of unrest and violence swept the village after the death of the two teenagers. The tensions climaxed on Saturday, when the angry crowd started looting Tsar Kiro’s mansions in the village.
The house of Tsar Kiro’s grandson, Georgi Rashkov, was attacked first, and then the crowd toppled over and set alight his expensive Mercedes.
All police forces in the city of Plovdiv were dispatched to Katunitsa to prevent further clashes. Within minutes, the whole village was raided by the gendarmerie units in an operation commanded by the head of the Plovdiv Police Department and Commissioner Kalin Georgiev, Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry.
Order was restored for a few hours when all of a sudden the news that supporters of local football club Botev had been heading towards the village to raid Rashkovs’ real estates broke out. A group of fans did show up, some of them under the influence of alcohol, chanting patriotic and ultra-nationalistic songs. At the sight of the gathered gendarmerie officers they gave a second thought to their plan to plunge into looting, but then over two hundred people gathered on the scene and started throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the house of Tsar Kiro. Two more of his rich houses were simultaneously raided at different parts of the village.
The Rashkovs, about seventy people in number led by Kiril Rashkov aka Tsar Kiro, was taken out of the village under heavy police protection, and their whereabouts are still unknown. Police officers told the Standart that Kiril Rashkov was kept at a safe place, where he could be questioned to help the ongoing investigation onto the incident.  

Velislava Panova
Eli Kumanova


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