Anti-vaccine protesters try to storm Bulgarian parliament

Bulgarian protesters against COVID-19 restrictions clash with police as they try to storm Sofia parliament

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Protesters against COVID-19 restrictions in Bulgaria clashed with police on Wednesday as they tried to storm the parliament in the capital Sofia.

A large number of police were present to prevent protesters from entering the building, and some were detained. Several people, including police, were injured in the clashes. Eventually, the protesters were repelled and police cordoned off the building.

The violence erupted at a protest rally against the mandate of masks and vaccines, organized by a nationalist group strongly opposed to the Bulgarian government’s measures to combat the virus.

“The purpose of the protest is to remove restrictive measures, especially the unconstitutional green certificates in the first place,” Vazlazhdan party leader Kostadine Kostadinov said before the protest.

Waving flags and singing patriotic songs, nearly a thousand protesters stayed in the square in front of the National Assembly, saying they planned to stay there until their demands for the removal of mandatory masks and green vaccination status passes were met.

Bulgaria, which faces a new surge in infections, is the least vaccinated of the EU’s 27 member states, with only a third of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who has been quarantined at home for being in contact with an infected person, called for calm at home and invited protester representatives to his office on Friday to discuss their demands.

———

Follow all AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

.