Bulgaria: On mayor’s order, police block march in honour of pro-Nazi leader

Police in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, acting on an order issued by mayor Vassil Terziev, blocked the holding of the evening Lukov March, an annual procession in honour of Hristo Lukov, who in the 1930s and 1940s was the leader of the neo-Nazi Union of Bulgarian National Legions.

The police intervened when a large crowd started gathering at the intended 5pm starting point of the torchlight procession, the pylons outside the National Palace of Culture, NDK, in the centre of Sofia.

As has happened in recent years regarding the Lukov March, first held in 2003, the municipality had given permission for a wreath-laying at the Trakia Street house of the fascist leader – who was assassinated by communist partisans in February 1943 – but the municipality did not agree to the holding of the evening procession through the streets of the city.

The notification from the municipality forwarded to the police said that if the procession went ahead, it would lead a breach of public order.

Police enforced the order in the square outside NDK.

Instead of the full-scale march, the crowd that had gathered – predominantly made up of young men, dark-clad with short haircuts – broke up into smaller groups to make their way to Trakia Street.

This year, the organisers, a fringe extra-parliamentary ultra-nationalist groupin – in an apparent attempt to make themselves more “mainstream” – held a 3pm procession about “all victims of communist terror”. They titled this event a “march of tolerance” in what appeared to be deliberate ironic counterpart to an event in recent years against antisemitism, hate speech and xenophobia.

Participants in the 3pm march, dressed in dark clothes and proceeding in tight ranks escorted by police, held photos of Bulgarian politicians and military officers killed by the post-Second World War communist regime, but no portrait of Lukov, claiming that the 3pm event was “not a Lukov March”.

Some historians say that there was a plot by Hitler’s regime for Lukov, whose Legionnaire’s antisemitic and racist views are a matter of record, to be put in place as ruler of Bulgaria in place of then-monarch Boris III.

Earlier, at 1pm on February 17, the customary gathering “No Nazis in the Streets”, organised on social networks by Antifa against the Lukov March, took place, on a route from Ariana Lake to the Central Mineral Bath.

On the afternoon and evening of February 17, police and Gendarmerie were deployed in large numbers at various points in central Sofia, including Dondukov Boulevard and Zaimov Park, nearby Lukov’s house.

In the past week, the planned holding of the Lukov March was condemned by Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, the embassy of Israel, GERB-UDF, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria Shalom.

(Archive photo: Circlephoto/ Shutterstock.com)

The Sofia Globe staff

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