A seaside-villa scandal sparks huge protests in Bulgaria

A seaside-villa scandal sparks huge protests in Bulgaria

Bodyguards who shoved an opposition politician could cost Boyko Borisov, the prime minister, his job

On july 7th a small boat motored up to a villa near the Black Sea resort town of Burgas. On board (and livestreaming) was Hristo Ivanov, a former justice minister who leads “Yes Bulgaria”, an anti-corruption party. He wanted to show that the villa’s main resident, Ahmed Dogan, founder of a party representing the country’s ethnic Turkish minority, was illegally treating the beach as his own. (In Bulgaria, coastal beaches are public property.) Mr Ivanov alighted and planted a Bulgarian flag, to the consternation of several muscular men in sunglasses who, unmoved by the ex-minister’s protestations of his constitutional rights, pushed him into the water.

A few weeks on, it is Bulgaria’s government that risks being pushed over. Mr Dogan is seen as an ally of the prime minister, Boyko Borisov, a former bodyguard who dominates the political scene with a mix of populism and patronage. But multiple scandals have led to daily protests in Sofia by thousands of demonstrators. On July 23rd Mr Borisov announced he was sacking four of his ministers, hoping to fend off demands that he resign.

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