Bulgaria: Antfia, Foreign Ministry, US embassy speak out against pro-fascist Lukov March

Antifa Sofia is holding a protest on February 25 at 4.30pm outside the Palace of Justice against that day’s Lukov March, held annually in Sofia in honour of a Hristo Lukov, leader of the fascist Union of Bulgarian National Legions at the time of the Second World War.

The protest, held several times in recent years against the Lukov March, is entitled “No Nazis on Our Streets”.

While the Lukov March is on February 25, organisers already laid a floral tribute at Lukov’s house on February 13, the anniversary of his 1943 assassination. The small group, wearing dark uniforms and berets, was guarded by a large police contingent.

In a media statement, Antifa Sofia said: “In spite of the organisers’ claims that (the Lukov March) is simply a tribute to a ‘national hero’, Lukov March has become the trademark event of fascist organisations in Bulgaria”.

“It normalises the presence of people with clear extremist views based on racism, homophobia, antisemitism, etc. Before the pandemic, Lukov March was a rallying point for neo-Nazi organizations from all over Europe, and we expect them to return to Sofia again this year, with travel restrictions now eased,” Antifa Sofia said.

The neo-Nazi march is set to take place exactly one day after the one-year anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine, the Antifa Sofia statement said.

“The so-called ‘denazification’ announced by the dictator Putin is nothing but another nationalist war, which aims not only to expand his empire, but also to consolidate totalitarianism in Russia, eliminating all independent civil opinion, through a new wave of repression, silencing and disinformation.

“At the same time, we find it inhumane to rehabilitate historical figures such as Stepan Bandera, an ideological twin of Lukov from the Second World War period, responsible for numerous pogroms against Poles and a former ally of the Hitler regime, in whose name torchlight processions are still held in Kyiv today.”

“At the same time, Turkey’s neo-sultan Erdogan, whose dictatorial regime of political persecution and sentencing in Turkey is similar to that of the Kremlin, is also waging his own war – against the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. For us, these oppressions are a reflection of the ideology of hatred against which we come out on February 25,” Antifa Sofia said.

It said that it also wanted, in its procession this year, to reach the monument in Sofia to the prevention of the deportation of the Bulgarian Jews to the Nazi death camps of the Holocaust.

“We will leave flowers on the commemorative plaque of 11 000 Jews from Northern Greece, Northern Macedonia and parts of the former Yugoslavia, which were under Bulgarian administration, and who were deported and murdered in the Treblinka death camp.”

It said that the bad news was that, at the moment, Sofia municipality had not yet approved its march, giving priority to Lukov March, whose application for approval was submitted earlier.

“We have requested information from the municipality about its intentions regarding Lukov March, in order to find out whether this year the neo-Nazi procession will also take place without hindrance, as in previous years.

“We find it particularly insulting that a gang of neo-Nazis, whose ideology is not accidentally criminalized, is being indulged at the expense of groups fighting for a more just society based on equality, solidarity and peaceful coexistence.”

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it was categorically against the planned holding of the Lukov March.

“Such manifestations are incompatible with the values and customs of Bulgarian society, create disunity, cause intolerance and harm our country,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“The streets of the Bulgarian capital cannot be a stage for international extremism,” it said.

Welcoming the efforts of the Bulgarian institutions to counter discrimination, intolerance and hatred, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls for taking all the necessary actions, within the framework of the law, to prevent the so-called Lukov March from taking place in 2023 as well, the ministry said

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to oppose any attempt to instill hatred and division in Bulgarian society, and to damage the international image of the Republic of Bulgaria, the statement said.

The US embassy said that it stands with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria in opposing the Lukov March.

“We join our allies and partners in the diplomatic community, political parties, and civil society in denouncing the vitriol and hatred the march represents. We must all come together to oppose hate speech in all forms, antisemitism, discrimination, and calls to violence,” the embassy said.

Earlier, the Lukov March was condemned by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and in a joint statement by the We Continue the Change party and the Democratic Bulgaria coalition.

(Archive photo: Circlephoto/Shutterstock.com)

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