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Students Block Access to Bulgarian University

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Several hundred students blocked access to Bulgaria’s largest university on Monday, demanding the dissolution of Parliament, calling for new elections and bemoaning a lack of “moral values” at high levels. University administrators pleaded with them to re-open the campus and allow classes to resume.

The protest at Kliment Ochridsky University in the capital, Sofia, will likely energize an anti-government movement that has spent four months protesting the country’s leadership. The demonstrators’ unhappiness stems from allegations that government leaders have ties with shady businessmen and other claims of official corruption.

The Socialist-backed Bulgarian government took office after early elections in May, following the resignation of the previous Cabinet amid anti-austerity protests. The government commands only 120 seats in the 240-seat Parliament and has to rely on the support from a nationalist party.

The appointment of controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as head of the national security agency sparked the initial protests in this nation of 7.3 million people. The appointment was immediately revoked but demonstrators have continued to insist the government is corrupt and must resign.

As the students blocked the entrances to the university Monday, they issued a statement insisting that the country’s governance must be based on “moral values rather than personal benefits.”

University administrators held an emergency meeting to discuss how to handle the blockade and the cancellation of classes it has triggered.

In a statement afterward, they backed the motives of the students as a reaction to the “lack of morality in the political life, the absence of concern about the future of young people in this country.” They added, however, that by blockading the facilities, the protesters were violating the rights of students who wished to keep learning, as well as the right of teachers and staff who want to work.

The protesting students, however, announced that they will continue the blockade.

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