Third Bulgarian dies after setting himself ablaze

SOFIA — A third Bulgarian man died Sunday after setting himself on fire amid protests against growing poverty and corruption in the European Union's poorest country, hospital officials said.

Ventsislav Vasilev, a 53-year-old unemployed father of five, had doused himself with fuel and set himself ablaze outside the mayor's office in the central town of Radnevo on 26 February.

He died Sunday after being hospitalized with severe smoke inhalation and burns over 75 percent of his body.

Also last month, 36-year-old protester Plamen Goranov set himself on fire outside city hall in the eastern city of Varna amid snowballing nationwide rallies against poverty, cronyism and corruption.

Goranov's self-immolation and clashes between protesters and police in Sofia prompted the resignation of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov the same day.

The young man's death on Bulgaria's Liberation Day, 3 March, turned him into a symbol of the rallies. Another Bulgarian died by self-immolation in the central city of Veliko Tarnovo on 19 February although he had not voiced any demands and police played down his death saying he had schizophrenia.

New street demonstrations were planned across the country Sunday as the political crisis in the small Balkan country deepened.

Snap elections were called for 12 May.

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