Bulgarian who set himself ablaze in protest dies: hospital

A Bulgarian who became a symbol of nationwide protests against poverty and corruption when he set himself on fire, has died, hospital officials said Monday.

Plamen Goranov, a 36-year-old amateur artist and rock climber, was hospitalised with 80-percent burns after setting himself ablaze on February 20 to press for the resignation of the mayor of the Black Sea city of Varna, Kiril Yordanov.

Goranov accused him of corruption and favouritism towards a local business group.

Goranov's self-immolation and a rally in Sofia the previous evening prompted the shock resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

The man's death on Sunday evening -- as Bulgaria marked its national liberation day amid a new wave of massive street protests -- was announced by the hospital on Monday.

The news spread quickly over social networks, where people began organising a vigil in his memory to be held later Monday.

"Bring slogans 'The Mafia Kills Bulgaria' against TIM -- the group that stifled Varna and spread its influence on a national level -- and candles in the memory of Plamen's self sacrifice," the AngryYoungMen group said in the event's page on one social network.

Varna mayor Yordanov has refused to resign even after Borisov's GERB party withdrew its support for him last week. He is expected to call a special session of the local council on March 6.

Bulgaria has been rocked for three weeks by sometimes violent demonstrations sparked by anger over high electricity bills that snowballed into wider frustration over corruption, poverty and cronyism in the European Union's poorest member state.

The protests saw Goranov and two other men burn themselves -- the first self-immolations in the Balkan country in decades.

A 26-year-old unemployed mentally ill man died after setting himself on fire in the central city of Veliko Tarnovo on February 19.

Another poverty-stricken man -- a 53-year-old father of five -- is fighting for his life after setting himself on fire in the town of Radnevo on February 26.

Street tensions continued Monday with protesters setting up a small tent camp outside parliament to press for election rules changes to give civil groups a bigger say in politics.

President Rosen Plevneliev is due soon to appoint a caretaker cabinet to govern the crisis-hit country ahead of early elections on May 12.