Thousands of Bulgarians furious over eye-popping power bills forced Prime Minister Boris Borisov to resign Wednesday, making the Bulgarian leader the latest casualty of austerity measures in Europe.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov gives a press conference in Sofia on Tuesday.(Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff, AFP/Getty Images)
Borisov told voters that he was stepping down after the marches turned violent, which he said he could not take.
"I cannot stand looking at a bloody Eagles' Bridge," he said, referring to a downtown intersection in the capital of Sofia where police and protesters violently clashed. "Every drop of blood is a shame for us."
Those demonstrations pitted flare-wielding demonstrators against truncheon-carrying officers. Fourteen people were injured in the violence.
The demonstrations Wednesday were just the latest chaos in the Eastern European nation, the EU's poorest member, where average salaries are just 380 euros a month. On Sunday, 100,000 protesters took to the streets, pasting government buildings in downtown Sofia with eggs and tomatoes and lashing out at police.
The protesters burned power bills and they denounced Borisov's government for failing to improve living standards in the country.
Electricity bills have gone up 13% since July. For many protesters the rising cost brings back memories of Bulgaria's communist past and the poverty prevalent during that period. Borisov announced Tuesday that the Czech utility CEZ, which controls power distribution in western Bulgaria, would be stripped of its license. CEZ says rates were set by the Bulgarian government according to a contract with the utility.
Source: USA Today | Victor Kotsev and Charles McPhedran