Police block nationalist vigilante group doing ID checks in Sofia

Police in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia prevented a group of ultra-nationalist young men who appointed themselves as a “civil patrol” demanding to see the identity documents of people and harassing migrants, but the group insists on official registration.

The group of vigilantes, who attempted their night patrol in central streets in Sofia where refugees and migrants have gathered, are from Boyan Rastate’s National Unity formation and the “United” National Forum.

In Pirotska Street, the group of about 30 shone torches into the faces of people and demanded to see identification, Bulgarian National Television reported on November 13.

Police arrived swiftly and ordered the group to disperse because such activity was illegal. The group said that they would seek legal means to carry out such patrols.

The group of self-proclaimed “patriots” posted photographs of their attempted patrol on Facebook with a note that “three generations of the National Unity Forum patrol the centre and command the respect of uninvited guests”.

Rasate appeared on the breakfast show of pro-government TV7 on November 15, along with nationalist politician Pavel Chernev and Simeon Kostadinov, the latter a co-founder of the newly-formed Nationalist Party that has stated its policy to be that Bulgaria must be a nation-state solely for Bulgarians. All three are involved in the new extremist formation.

Rasate said on TV7 that “with regard to the refugees and the tense situation with them, it is appropriate to announce that we have received permission from the Sofia directorate of the Interior Ministry to organise citizens’ patrols. We will be observers and will approach the police about any offence”.

“We already have patrols,” Kostadinov said.

Kostadinov said that his newly-formed party was the subject of attempts to discredit and stop it because “we are an anti-establishment party opposing the status quo and the other parties are afraid”.

Sofia police rejected as utterly untrue that anyone had been given permission to conduct “citizen patrols”. Anyone stopped by people describing themselves as such a patrol should report to the matter to the police so that action could be taken, police said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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