Call to ban Vuzrazhdane party, saying it aims to destroy democratic order in Bulgaria

A petition signed by prominent Bulgarian civil activists is calling on the Prosecutors Office to ban minority parliamentary party Vuzrazhdane, saying that the party and its leader Kostadin Kostadinov aim to destroy the democratic legal order in Bulgaria.

Vuzrazhdane, a pro-Kremlin, anti-EU and anti-Nato party, is the third-largest parliamentary group in the 49th National Assembly, elected in April 2023, with 37 members in the 240-seat House.

Submitted to acting Prosecutor-General Borislav Sarafov by human rights organisation the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the document says that Vuzrazhdane has been increasingly openly calling for violence and has used illegal means to achieve its political goals.

The documents lists a number of specific cases in which the party grossly violated the Political Parties Act and the constitution, and in which Vuzrazhdane activists, including its leader, use or incite violence.

It cites Vuzrazhdane’s campaign against anti-Covid measures, and its actions regarding its position on Russia’s war with Ukraine, resulting in members of the public being injured.

“Vazrajdane systematically uses antisemitism, instills hatred and loathing towards refugees, Roma, as well as towards representatives of the LGBTI community.”

It says that the targets of Vuzrazhdane’s attacks have included individuals, state institution, and even the staff of a bar in the centre of Sofia. This is a reference to a group from Vuzrazhdane invading a bar in the capital city that had posted in its window a sign saying that it would not serve supporters of the party.

“Nationalist supporters, under the flags of Vuzrazhdane, thwarted a screening of a European film in Sofia and Varna, and the police failed to guarantee the right of peaceful assembly of citizens.”

This is a reference to incidents in which people wearing Vuzrazhdane t-shirts and carrying the party’s flag prevented the screening of a film that was part of the Sofia Pride Film Festival.

Cases of harassment of journalists and violation of the right to freedom of expression are also described.

“The expression of opposing views on public political issues is a normal process in a democratic state,” the document says. “But the use of unlawful means to achieve political ends, including the use and incitement of violence, cannot enjoy the constitutional and statutory protections of freedom of expression and freedom of association in a democratic society.”

When the party uses or calls for violence and aims to eliminate the established democratic model of public power and replace it with a rule that is repressive in nature, the state is obliged to take measures to restrict the party, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee said.

Signed by numerous civil rights activists, Bulgarian Jewish community leaders, LGBTQ+ activists, academics, intellectuals and people in various professions, the document is copied to the Supreme Bar Council and the Ombudsman.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee invited anyone who wants to add their signature to the petition to do so by following this link.

Kostadinov told Bulgarian National Radio on July 31 that those seeking the ban of his party were doing so “because they cannot fight us in any other way”.

He described the signatories as “persons who exude a strong intellectual weakness”.

Kostadinov said that all the signatories were “voters of the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria”.

“This is not a citizens’ initiative, but a smokescreen of the WCC-DB, who are trying to distract attention from the fact that they betrayed their own voters. The presidents of these people negotiated the appointments in the future Bulgarian government with the American and other ambassadors.”

He did not rule out taking court action against most of the signatories.

(Photo of Kostadinov via BNT)

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