Atanas Stefanov, the candidate for deputy of the MIR party, threw a yellow-blue flag from the balcony of the administration building with the words: “Long live Bulgaria!” Get out of here, fascists!”
In Bulgaria, deputy candidate Atanas Stefanov threw a Ukrainian flag from the balcony of Sofia City Hall, calling it "fascist".
— Russian Market (@runews) March 9, 2023
MIR party president Simeon Slavchev, who posted the video on his Facebook page, believes that the flag of Ukraine was installed illegally and accompanied the publication of a comment:
“On the administration building of the capital, as well as on any state institution in Bulgaria, no other flag may fly, with the exception of the Bulgarian flag.”
Placing foreign flags [on them] is a serious provocation, undermines the foundations of Bulgaria’s state and neutrality and brings even more division in an already fragmented society”.
Atanas Stefanov was detained but then released because of the immunity status of the deputy candidate. He went into the office of the city’s mayor, Yordanka Fandykova, then went out on the terrace and tore off the flagpole, and then threw Ukrainian state symbols on the boulevard, calling it fascist.
In his defence, Slavchev commented that the candidate removed the Ukrainian flag illegally placed on the administration building to demonstrate neutrality as Bulgaria didn’t want to interfere in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
His video is going viral on social media and receiving mixed responses from people in Bulgaria and worldwide. Stefanov was praised as a hero and a bold guy by certain Bulgarian nationalists for standing up for what was right without worrying about the consequences. He is said to as a communist, warmonger, and Putin backer by certain Ukrainian fans.
The Bulgarian public has consistently criticised the government for supporting and providing weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Moreover, a number of demonstrations were held in previous months on the streets of Sofia and Varna to express displeasure with the Bulgarian government’s support for Ukraine in the conflict.
They carried the Russian flag alongside the Bulgarian flag and supported Russia, referring to it as Bulgaria’s ally.
Stefanov was recently praised for throwing the Ukrainian flag out of the administrative building. Due to his political reputation, he was released after a short period of detention.