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Third Bulgarian dies after setting himself ablaze

Mourners place flowers on the coffin of Plamen Goranov during his funeral service  in Varna on March 6, 2013
Mourners place flowers on the coffin of Plamen Goranov, a man who set himself on fire, during his funeral service at St. Petka church in the city of Varna on March 6, 2013. A third Bulgarian man died on Sunday after setting himself on fire amid protests a

A third Bulgarian man died on Sunday after setting himself on fire amid protests against growing poverty and corruption in the EU'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 February 26.

He died on Sunday after being hospitalised 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 the city hall in Varna, on the Black Sea, 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, March 3, turned him into a symbol of the rallies. Another Bulgarian died by self-immolation in the central city of Veliko Tarnovo on February 19 although he had not voiced any demands and police played down his death saying he had schizophrenia.

Several thousands demonstrated on Sunday in the capital Sofia and about a dozen other cities across the country as the political crisis deepened.

Protesters in Sofia kneeled and observed a minute's silence in Vasilev's memory and gathered outside parliament, shouting "Victory" and waved banners reading "Out with the mafia."

Demonstrators briefly blocked traffic at the railway station in Varna. Traffic on a key highway to Greece was also blocked.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev is due to dissolve parliament and appoint a caretaker government next week ahead of snap elections on May 12.