On a Geography Society trip to Sofia over reading week, students found themselves caught up in the midst of a Bulgarian political outcry.
Last week, whilst on an LSE organised trip to the Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, plans went awry.
Instead of what was expected to be a two-hour coach journey to Rila, students were met with a protest against high fuel prices. Protesters gathered to block motorways in and around major cities. Participants, organised via social media networks, objected to high fuel prices, car taxes and low incomes.
On the scene
Although initially unhappy with the delay of events, students soon found themselves interested in the stark cultural difference in the nature of the protest. Many members of the society commented on the inefficiency of the furore, as protestors appeared to simply be standing around.
One student asked a protestor how long they would be blocking the motorways for, to which the response was “one hour, maybe” and a casual shrug – yet the coach was stuck in traffic for well over this time (around four hours).
For a small crowd of people, the protest held up for a substantial amount of time and LSE students found themselves observing the events from the side of the road.
Students also mentioned the passivity of the police, with the general consensus being that they did not seem to care about the disruption caused.
One student commented that they were “shocked to see how different the protest was in Bulgaria compared to those in the UK” and that “it didn’t look as though the protest would make much progress in reducing fuel prices or countering the other problems being protested.”
Events such as these are not a new concept in Bulgaria, and furore against the high fuel prices are expected to resume on the 17th of November.
Anu Jain – News editor