Sofia protests

Protests are part of everyday life here in Sofia but during the last month they have been more than normal, especially with regard to the record cold winter that is currently hitting Bulgaria.

Most protests this winter have been against the ski resort on Vitosha’s illegal expansion into nature protected areas, which resulted in the ski lifts on Vitosha being closed leaving people with no option then to go further away from Sofia to go skiing or snowboarding. Here is what Radio Bulgaria has to say about the whole event:

Issues there emerged when in 2007 the Municipal Agency sold all lifts in the most visited part of the mountain to a private company. It did not take long before the new monopolist showed its views for the future of the mountain. Saying it was renovating the ski runs it dug out 350 huge boulders part of the protected stone rivers on Vitosha. Plants and habitats were destroyed but the reaction of the management of the Vitosha Park and a coalition of 30 non-governmental organizations stopped the work of bulldozers in the park stopped. According to the management plan of the mountain, the company was not allowed to change in any way the relief or natural vegetation, owned by the State Forest Fund. The new owners did not replace the old lifts, but stopped them and lobbied for law changes, guaranteeing them construction of a new bigger ski zone. Days before New Year’s Eve the changes were adopted, giving a green light to the private owners’ aims to start building new lifts in Vitosha without even paying taxes for that. According to experts, these changes cause losses of more than 25 million euro of budget revenues.

Then there were the shale gas protests. I am happy the Bulgarian’s really care about their amazing nature and want to protect it, which is very visible on how many people are showing up for these protests. This time the protests actually worked and on the 18th of January the Bulgarian government banned shale drilling.

Last but not least is the anti-ACTA protests that will take place tomorrow in 17 Bulgarian cities, and here in Sofia will start in front of NDK (National Palace of Culture) at 11 am. These protests are a result of Bulgaria signing the ACTA agreement in Tokyo on the 26th January together with 21 more EU countries.

Sofia protests

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