An interview: First-hand account of a protest
Author: Georgi Iliev a.k.a. Goro “The Coffee”
Translator : Tatyana Todorova
(original text published by Newspaper Protest, the print media of Bulgaria’s Protest Network)
“I protest, because I believe. This is a moral battle for defending and preserving the traditional Bulgarian values.”
Q: What are the protests for you?
G.I.: First, I will use a cliché: it’s a ‘’Way of life.” Already two months and I do not do anything else but to protest. The revenues of my small agency specializing in commercials and publicity, meanwhile, have dropped 11 times over, and my kids see me more often on the TV than live. My wife, with whom I have been since 1994, is a heroine, but I do not know how long she will be able to bear with me in a situation like this. I participate in the protests, because I believe that we are able to “fix our own mess” and also, that we are capable to do it by ourselves – without help from the outside. For me, this is a moral battle to save and to preserve the Bulgarian nation and its traditional values. Each of us is doing what we believe is right, and everyone participates by putting as much effort as they can – according to their strengths and capacities. We are led by our consciousness and the will to be, again, a community, not just to be referred to either as “an electorate” or mere “human material.” (1) There are numbers of people in our society whose self-awareness is dormant so we, the protesters, are trying to find ways to wake them up. This newspaper is one of the “wakening tools,” so we are very grateful for its existence!
Q: You want a direct democracy – are we ready for this and what is the chance for it to happen in Bulgaria?
G.I.: The direct democracy, as utopian as it might sound, is already a fact in different regions of the world, under different forms – both as a “social contract’’ (2) and as a way of organizing the society. This, however, anticipates a high level of awareness and access to information for a large number of people, from one side, as well as a personal commitment for participation in the social processes. In Bulgaria, we are not quite there yet. For me, the things here definitely can happen – and as a matter of fact, they have already started, because we can observe these specific and ongoing processes:
1. There is already a formed ‘’civil society’’ in Bulgaria, a citizens movement, and it is growing fast.
2. The communicational environment to be used by the active citizens is created – this is the “Protest Network.”
3. The citizens’ pressure on the political scene is getting stronger – we are already a corrective force for them, something that they have to contend with now.
4. More and more politicians realize the processes 1, 2 and 3 above and are trying to adjust to them, if they can.
5. What comes next is that more and more people get awareness and understanding (and for this we need to educate them politically) until they finally realize that they do not need professional politicians. This is the concept of direct democracy: delegating rights will become unnecessary, as the awareness and informational access grows – so that decisions are made fast and clearly . The #ДАНСwithme initiative just proved that this works.
6. More means of communication and decision-making will be created – which will lead to the “electronic parliament,” where millions of active citizens will make the decisions – thus bringing about the end of the representative democracy as such.
7. The last process will be the most difficult – the representatives of the old system will have to demolish it and give the power right back into the hands of the Sovereignty: the people. I do not know how long it will take – 5, 10 or 20 years, but I am confident that it will happen in the frame of our life perspective.
Q: How did you get the idea for the coffee in front of the Parliament? Where are you donating the gathered funds?
G.I.: This is not my idea, but my friend Valentine’s idea, with whom I have partnered to do this. He has a coffee shop and is also one of the oldest clients of my agency. After the beginning of the initiative “Coffee in front of the Parliament” and especially after the huge media bias to diminish the reported numbers of the protesters, he had the idea to get a sense of the real numbers by making coffee for the protesters, and then gather and count the cups that they used for their coffee! He met me that day and asked me to join. So the very first day we made the coffee with our personal funds. We also put a box in front for “the next day’s coffee” to see if people will like and participate in the initiative for the next day. The effect exceeded all of our expectations – after the first three days, we had 150 leva extra, so we donated them to the church “St. George” in Darvenitza, where they have a kitchen for the poor. After we published the receipt in the social networks, the donations increased even more – two times we found a whole bill of 100 leva in the box. Up to this moment, we donated more than 3000 leva. The other good effect of that initiative was that the media stopped lying about the real number of the protesters, so I want to believe that our idea worked. From the empty used cups we make different mosaics and figures every day; we even got a proposal to give them to the historical museum dedicated to the city of Sofia. (3)
Q: When will these protests stop then; what needs to be achieved?
G.I.: I am far from the thought that after the RESIGNATION of this government and dissolving this Parliament, things will get to normal. For my deepest regret, there will be always reasons for protests, but from the other side, I am happy because there is already a civil society in place that will be a corrective for any government to come. Personally, I believe that this Protest will continue for many years, until we find, expose and remove the last tentacle of the mafia and anti-Bulgarian interests left within our society as it is now.
Q: What will you say to the people who are supporting the protest, but are not on the streets with you?
G.I.: There is an easy way to support the initiative – let them simply put the national flag on their windows and balconies – thus, they cannot be blamed for anything and they are still being active. This way, the government will see the real number of people that wants them to go. But for the 4th of September, I ask them to come to Sofia and join us in front of the Parliament, to help remove the most arrogant government Bulgaria has ever had. A government that lies publicly (their prime minister, Oresharsky, said in front of the Parliament – the highest tribune possible – that he “forgot” who nominated Peevski, and even the stenographer’s account of that meeting mysteriously disappeared, although it is obligatory that it be published, by law!)
Liars and traitors cannot rule Bulgaria!
Resignation! Elections now!
(1) “human material” or “bad human material” which is how the ex-prime minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, referred to Bulgarians in one of his public statements. This became emblematic of an arrogant politician insulting the citizens that he is supposed to serve.
(2) The concept of “public contract” – the way it was stated and developed in “Social Contract” (“Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
(3) The museum dedicated to the history of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It is one of Europe’s most ancient capitals, a city with more than twenty-three centuries of history.