Organisers of the Lukov March say that they have been shown a Supreme Administrative Court decision upholding an order by Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova limiting the event only to the laying of floral tributes at Lukov’s house – effectively banning the procession through the streets of Bulgaria’s capital.
In a post on the event’s official website, the organisers said that they were shown the court order at a meeting at the Interior Ministry also attended by representatives of Sofia municipality.
The laying of floral tributes at the house where Lukov, a pro-Nazi who led the fascist Union of Bulgarian National Legions, was killed, is the traditional culmination of the annual Lukov March.
The organisers said that the Supreme Administrative Court’s order was in response to a judgment of the Sofia Administrative Court overturning Fandukova’s total ban on the Lukov March.
“Although absurd, the Supreme Administrative Court accepts that it is a not a problem for the mayor of Sofia to change the character of the event from a procession to a meeting, and thus we cannot move through the streets of Sofia.”
The organisers said that “unfortunately” the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision was final and not subject to appeal.
They said that city police had told them that they would not allow the march in any form. “They even announced that they would stop anyone who tried to do so.”
“We will not call for the breaking of the law and failure to comply with a judgment. But we leave it up to everyone to decide where to go, where to pass and how to move around.”
Speaking on the afternoon of February 21, the eve of the 2020 Lukov March, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said that the ministry was determined to uphold the mayor’s order regarding the event.
Held since 2003, the Lukov March, an evening torchlight parade that attracts neo-Nazis from various parts of Europe, has been banned by mayor Fandukova every year in recent years, but in each of these years, the ban has been overturned by the court in Sofia.
Ahead of the 2020 Lukov March, the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office lodged an application in the Sofia City Court to delete the registration of the march’s organiser, the Bulgarian National Union Edelweiss, under the law on non-government organisations.
Prosecutors say that the BNU Edelweiss has been organising events that run counter to Bulgaria’s constitution, and its leaders and activists have made statements containing incitement to violence and hate speech based on racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and antisemitic propaganda. Contrary to the law, the BNU Edelweiss had set up a paramilitary structure, according to prosecutors.