Bulgarian President Roumen Radev on Saturday called for the resignation of the government, which he described as having a “mafia character”, after police raids on his offices during the week which Radev blamed on the prime minister.
The president’s legal affairs and anti-corruption secretary and his security and defence advisor were detained for questioning on Thursday and their offices searched as part of two separate probes into influence-peddling and disclosure of state secrets.
The searches brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of Sofia to condemn the raids as an attack by the conservative government and the chief prosecutor against the Socialists-backed Radev.
The president is a vehement critic of the conservative government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, accusing it of “links with the oligarchs”.
On Saturday, roadblocks were still in place, halting traffic in Sofia, the capital.
“The mafia character of the government has pushed Bulgarians of all ages and various political tendencies to demand respect for the law,” said Radev in a television appeal to the nation broadcast.
“The only solution is the resignation of the government and the attorney general.”
Radev accused them of “racketeering” and said an “anti-mafia consensus” was forming in the country.
One of the president’s advisers has been charged with “trading in influence” for having acted as an intermediary between a businessman and the president, another for having appropriated documents from the intelligence services.
The searches have been interpreted by the opposition as a declaration of war against the president.
Spontaneous protests against Borissov took place on Friday evening in Sofia, leading to 18 arrests, and injuries to two protesters and four police officers.
On Saturday, hundreds of people invaded a beach on the Black Sea reserved exclusively for a political official who supports Borissov, to protest against corruption.
Bulgaria is ranked the most corrupt of the 27 nations in the EU.
“Europe has no right to look away from Bulgaria. The European Union needs a democratic Bulgaria,” said Radev.