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Bulgaria’s EU presidency start drowned by protest shouts

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Bulgaria’s six-month EU presidency stint yesterday (11 January) got off to a noisy start as anti-corruption protesters blocked streets in heavily-guarded capital Sofia.

More than 1,500 people shouted “Mafia!”, “Resign!”, “Save Pirin” and “We want nature, not concrete” to slam plans for the country’s Pirin national park they say would open to construction almost half of the UNESCO world heritage site.

Anti corruption protests to #SavePirin national park spread in #Bulgaria 🇧🇬, as country takes over EU Presidency tonight #EU2018BG @EU2018BG

Thousands expected on streets of Sofia, Brussels, London & 15 other citieshttps://t.co/4y3Tyz7Auu#NatureAlert pic.twitter.com/oUZwcuEioA

— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) January 11, 2018

Chanting “Save Pirin”, “Mafia” and “Corruption”, protesters said the cabinet’s decision to expand the ski area breached a number of nature protection laws and would lead to the destruction of centuries-old pine trees endangering wildlife at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“I am here because I am a Bulgarian and a European citizen and the government’s decision is in contradiction with Bulgarian and European legislation,” said journalist Simeon Tabakov, one of the demonstrators.

The protesters, who carried banners saying “Bulgaria, wake up........

© Euractiv