Peaceful Assembly

Offline Sofia Pride event was possible in June 2021

Sofia Pride was organized on June 12 in the Bulgarian capital. The event aimed to draw attention to the rights of people in the LGBTI community. Last year, the event was organized online due to new legal provisions that limited freedom of assembly due to Covid-19, which means pandemic constraints. According to the organizers around 10000 people joined the event.

As always, before the event, the organizers of the event addressed the authorities to provide them with the necessary protection, especially in intensifying attacks on community members shortly before June 12. Sofia Globe, a Bulgarian publication, reported that several ambassadors of Western states recorded video messages in support of the community and encouraged the authorities to ensure the necessary measures so that the event can occur without incident. According to the same source, on the same day, June 12, ultra-conservative groups held rallies in a few cities "in defence of the traditional Bulgarian family.". Before Sofia Pride, in May in the city of Burgas was organized the first march dedicated to the LGBTI community. According to the Bulgarian press, a counter-protest was organized during which opponents threw eggs, cucumbers, bottles of water and a smoke bomb. About 300 representatives of the special forces separated the protesters from the counter-protesters. Dozens of people took part in this march.

Expression

Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice: "Democracy cannot function without free and independent media”

The EU Commissioner for Justice, Věra Jourová, gave an extensive interview to the Bulgarian press. She made several comments regarding democracy and the role of independent media, both at the European and national level, i.e. including Bulgaria. According to Vera Jourova, the EU analyzes data on media independence at the European level, monitoring pluralism of opinion and how the national authorities of EU member states ensure the necessary conditions for journalism not to be harmed. In this respect, Bulgaria is included in the monitoring mechanisms. This approach provides the core of media freedom and allows the avoidance of violence against journalists or external interventions in the editorial policy of the newsrooms.

The European Commissioner also explained that the EU has taken into consideration and will soon implement several mechanisms that will contribute to the safety of journalists. Also, the EU is working on an initiative to combat the abuse of legal claims against journalists and human rights defenders. The initiatives are planned to contribute both to the recovery and the digital transformation of the media sector. Representatives of the Bulgarian media will also benefit from these mechanisms. The press's institutional and financial support is essential because it ensures both the framework and the standards at which the information sector must operate and the minimal financial resources allocated for independent publications.

Association

Open letter from elected members of the Council for the Development of Civil Society addressed to the president and prime minister

On May 15, 2021, 14 Bulgarian organizations, elected members of the Council for the Development of Civil Society (SRGO) at the Council of Ministers, issued an open letter. The letter is addressed to President Rumen Radev and the caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev. In their letter, the CSOs representatives called for the Council to be constituted as soon as possible. According to them, the members were elected precisely one year ago but were not involved in consistent discussions. The organizations express readiness for active involvement in the future consultative body at the Council of Ministers. Also, they expressed their willingness, as part of the Council, to fulfil their duties and to contribute to the improvement of conditions both for the support of civil society organizations and for the effective use of their experience and professionalism to overcome the challenges and development of Bulgaria. The full text of the letter can be found here.