Bulgarian farmers protest against mass livestock slaughter
Hundreds of farmers from around Bulgaria rallied in the capital Sofia on Wednesday against the government-ordered mass slaughter of livestock following the first outbreak in the European Union of the highly contagious Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).
Carrying banners that read “We want fair treatment” and “Burning of dead animals - a step back to the medival period”, the demonstrators, who set wool on fire and spilled milk, called on the government to increase state aid to affected farmers.
They demanded the resignations of the agriculture minister and senior officials in the ministry as some of the protesters tried to storm the government building before being pushed back by police.
The Balkan state last month reported the outbreak of the disease, also known as ovine rinderpest or sheep and goat plague, on livestock farms in the village of Voden in the southeast, near the border with Turkey.
Bulgarian authorities said they had already slaughtered more than 4,000 animals in order to prevent the further spread of the disease and avert a European Union ban on Bulgarian milk and dairy exports.
A quarantine zone has been imposed around three villages and blood checks ordered on small livestock within 10 km of the outbreak.