Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office issued a call on February 25 to the Interior Ministry and Sofia’s mayor to ensure the preservation of public order and protection of the rights of the public ahead of the Lukov March, the annual torchlit march in the capital city in honour of a Bulgarian fascist leader at the time of the Second World War.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that it had opened a dossier after receiving a letter from caretaker Foreign Minister Nikolai Milkov expressing concern about the holding of the Lukov March.
The statement said that opinions also had been received from the Interior Ministry, State Agency for National Security and from non-governmental organizations related to alleged risks of violations of public order.
“In view of the above and in accordance with its powers, the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office appeals to the competent authorities to take measures to prevent disruption of public order and to protect the rights of citizens in connection with the event,” the statement said.
The Lukov March was first held in 2003 and over the years has attracted neo-Nazi groups from elsewhere in Europe and the world, in honour of Hristo Lukov, who led the fascist Union of Bulgarian National Unions and whom they claim to be a “patriotic hero”. Lukov was assassinated on February 13 1943.
The march regularly has been banned by the mayor of Sofia but these bans, more often than not, have been overturned in court.
In November 2022, the Sofia City Administrative Court overturned a ban of the 2023 Lukov March by Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, while allowing an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court had been expected to rule on February 20, but a court ruling was postponed for procedural reasons, citing an error in documentation lodged in court by Sofia municipality. The Supreme Administrative Court gave the municipality seven days to correct the documentation.
This led to a dispute between the municipality and the organisers as to whether the march could take place, given that there was no final ruling from the Supreme Administrative Court.
Some hours before the 5.30pm starting time of the Lukov March, organisers held a protest in central Sofia, dubbing the event “Illegal March”, an apparent reference to Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev having described the march as illegal, which they claim it is not.
Several voices have been raised in condemnation of the pro-fascist event, including those of the World Jewish Congress, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, GERB, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, the embassies of the United States, the United Kingdom and the State of Israel, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, and representatives of 18 non-governmental organisations, including Jewish, Roma and human rights NGOs.
In the late afternoon, a protest organised by Antifa Bulgaria against the Lukov March, entitled “No Nazis on our Streets” began. The counter-protest has been held regularly in recent years.
Already on the morning of February 25, large numbers of police were deployed near Lukov’s central Sofia house, which in past years was the culmination point of the march. Police also were deployed in nearby streets.
(Archive photo: Circlephoto/Shutterstock.com)
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