The Bulgarian Socialist Party, Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria all have issued calls for the banning of the planned February 14 2015 annual “Lukov March” in Sofia.
Organised by the far-right Bulgarian National Union, the march honours General Hristo Lukov, who led the Union of Bulgarian National Legions in the 1930s and is seen as a pro-Nazi and anti-Semite, although the latter point is disputed.
Lukov, war minister while Bulgaria was allied to Nazi Germany in World War 2, was assassinated by communists in Sofia on February 13 1943.
The “Lukov March” has been held in Sofia since 2003, with participants wearing fascist-style garb and bearing torches. It was banned in 2014 but about 200 participants defied the ban.
Members of Parliament for the BSP wrote to Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova on February 11 2015 calling on her to ban the march as a threat to public order in the capital city.
The BSP said that it was undeniable that the procession annually was used for public showing of Nazi symbolism and calls for religious and ethnic hatred.
Sofia should not be an arena for shocking scenes of violence on a race basis, justified by nationalist rhetoric, the party said.
“Groups of citizens cannot form urban militias in total contradiction to the laws of the country and to carry out attacks, the fruit of racial hatred, as unfortunately is already happening,” the BSP declaration said.
In Parliament on February 12, MRF MP Tuncher Kurdzhaliev called for mass opposition to the Lukov March being held this year. He also called on mayor Fandukova to ban the march.
“The MRF strongly condemns the worship of personalities associated with fascist ideology,”
The Lukov March would mock the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and would deny the repression to which Jews had been subjected.
“Let February 14, a day of a traditional holiday and a day of love (a reference to Valentine’s Day), say ‘no’ to hate,” Kurdzhaliev said.
The Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria said that the holding of such a demonstration of neo-Nazi and xenophobic ideas, uniforms, Nazi symbols and torches will not only provoke hatred, ethnic, religious and racial confrontation, but also creates a negative image of Bulgaria as a state permitting an event that promotes the work of a person who confessed Nazi ideology and actively applied the implementation of anti-Jewish laws in Bulgaria during World War 2.
The annual reminder of the political role of Lukov was a demonstration of the propaganda of pro-Nazi and xenophobic ideas, desecrating the memory of millions of victims of the Holocaust, and denial of the repression and humiliation faced by Bulgarian Jews during the implementation of the anti-Jewish laws in the Kingdom of Bulgaria in the period 1941-1944.
As leader of the Legionaries, Lukov was one of those responsible for this suffering and humiliation, Shalom said.
Shalom said that it opposed any act that publicly legitimises neo-Nazi ideology in Bulgaria and revives slogans and political programmes of the time of fascism.
The holding of the Lukov March was another attempt to rewrite the history of World War 2 in Bulgaria.
“Holding Lukov March 2015 under the motto ‘Tradition Continues’ is a challenge and a provocation because it has been explicitly shown that there is nothing good in continuing the tradition of Nazism,” Shalom said.
The Lukov March was not only an unacceptable event for the Bulgarian capital, but an act of opposition to the democratic values of Bulgarian society and a belittling of the achievements of the Sofia authorities’ policy of respect and tolerance of differences.
Shalom expressed gratitude to the institutions, organisations and individuals who supported their protest against the Lukov March in 2014.
“Today we again urge all institutions, political parties and their leaders, community organisations and the whole Bulgarian society to express clearly and emphatically their implacable opposition and to condemn extremism, hatred, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, and to oppose this undemocratic event by all means within the law.
“Bulgaria’s future depends on all of us and we have to build together with wisdom and understanding, for the good of our country,” Shalom said.
On February 11, Russia’s foreign ministry called on Bulgaria to ban the Lukov March.