Bulgarian sets himself alight over TV Turkish news
November 10th, 2009 - 16:15 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

Rosen Markov, the eccentric leader of the “Party of Bulgarian Men” set himself on fire this evening in front of the Bulgarian National TV in protest against the broadcasting of news in the Turkish language. Markov, who is a native of Varna and is known for his weird and unconventional public initiatives, set a table on the San Stefanov street earlier today with a banner saying, “No to the news in Turkish on the BNT. They are an outrage. Who needs them?”

At one point, the man just set himself on fire in front of the main entrance of the state-owned TV station. He was saved by the policemen on duty who took off his coat immediately and put it off with a fire extinguisher. After the incident, the man returned to his table.

For one week in August 2009, Markov collected 20 000 signatures in the city of Varna against the broadcasting of news in Turkish on the Bulgarian National TV.

The ten-minute afternoon broadcast of news in Turkish on the Bulgarian National TV was introduced by the UDF government of PM Ivan Kostov in the late 1990s. It usually follows the Bulgarian-language news at 4 pm every weekday afternoon. The broadcast is a courtesy to the ethnic Turkish minority in Bulgaria but has been violently opposed by nationalists over the years, many of whom even claim the Bulgarian Turks don’t understand the literary Turkish language spoken in the broadcast.