Police Officers Rally For Higher Wages

Sofia, Bulgaria: More than a thousand disgruntled police officers and interior ministry employees staged a mass-protest on 23 and 24 September

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(All Images Copyright 2012 by Johann Brandstätter, www.jb-photography.org)

Police officers in Bulgaria are not only grossly underpaid – one reason for the widespread corruption within the police force – they are also forced to buy vital equipment like crash helmets, side arms etc. from their meager salaries.

The European Police Union as well as labor unions from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and other countries have sent letters of support to the Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

The average salary in Bulgaria is less than € 2,800 per year while the minimum monthly salary as required by the law is only € 145.

More examples of news images on my website at www.jb-photography.org/section624319.html

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Georgia – parliamentary elections coverage

Flag Republic of Georgia
Flag Republic of Georgia

I am in the Republic of Georgia from 30 September to 13 October, first covering the parliamentary elections from Tbilisi, then working in a remote region of the Caucasus.

Elections in Georgia will take place on Monday, 1 October.

These are the first parliamentary elections in the Caucasus republic after the five-day war with Russia in 2008 during which the de-facto independence of two breakaway regions of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) was confirmed. Several opposition parties are trying to wrestle the absolute majority from the now-ruling United National Movement (UNM) of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

One of the main contenders is the coalition ‘ Georgian Dream’ led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, another one is the conservative ‘Democratic Movement – United Georgia’ who was seen as responsible for a series of violent demonstrations in May last year.

After election day I will make my way – in a somewhat adventurous way as far as I can tell – to the remote Svaneti region in the Caucasus mountains to work on a photo documentary.

Anybody interested in the election coverage or other material from Georgia, please let me know (ideally before the end of September):  johann [at] jb-photography.org   or   +359 877 743 641

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Pic Of The Week (26/2012) – Looking For The Best Angle

This Bulgarian cameraman is doing everything to get the best view:

An inventive cameraman
An inventive cameraman (Image Copyright Johann Brandstätter / JB Photography)

The occasion was one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in Sofia so far this year. Thousands of protesters rallied against a controversial amendment to the Bulgarian Forestry Act, blocking one of the main traffic arteries in Sofia every evening for almost a week.

For more shots from these protest have a look at my website.

Canon EOS 50D & Canon EF 4/24-105mm L IS USM; f/4; 1/200; ISO 500

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As Syria Grieves: Photographs by Nicole Tung

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Anti-Government Demonstration In Bulgaria: “All Your Friends Are Here…”

Bulgarian riot police and a photographer running to a hotspot during the anti-government rally on 14 June 2012 in Sofia.

Bulgarian riot police running during a rally in Sofia
Bulgarian riot police running during a rally in Sofia (Image Copyright Brandstätter / JB Photography)

I snapped of a series of shots before joining the mêlée and in the heat of the moment didn’t pay attention to the background. Only during post-processing of the images I realized the slightly ironic note of this frame with the cops running in full riot gear and the huge billboard saying “All Your Friends Are Here”.

This demonstration was the second in a row against a change in the Bulgarian Forestry Act that would allow land owners to build ski tracks and lifts in the mountains without changing the status of the land first.

See my photo report from the anti-government rally in  Sofia yesterday (14 June 2012) on Demotix.

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Bulgarian Right-Wing Leader: Mosque Is ‘Too Noisy’

The leader of the Bulgarian ultra-nationalist party Ataka, Volen Siderov, claims that the ‘noise’ generated by the call for prayer from the Banya Bashi mosque in the capital Sofia is ‘intolerable’.

Bulgarian ultra-right party leader Volen Siderov during an anti-Islamic rally in Sofia
Bulgarian ultra-right party leader Volen Siderov during an anti-Islamic rally in Sofia (Image Copyright Brandstätter / JB Photography)

In Siderov’s words, the ‘whining of the Imam’ during Friday prayers is violating public order because it is ‘too loud’. Ataka also sent an open letter to Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova, demanding a ban of religious rites outside the mosque in central Sofia.

The Banya Bashi mosque has space for about 800 faithful which is sometimes not enough to accommodate everybody, so people have to stand outside.

Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years until 1876 and still has a substantial Turkish-muslim minority.

See my photo report from the anti-Islamist rally in front of the Sofia municipality on Demotix.

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