Prosecutors in Bulgaria seek ban on two organisations for allegedly stoking religious, ethnic hatred

The District Prosecutor’s Office in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna has lodged two applications in court to shut down two organisations on the grounds of instilling religious and ethnic hatred and calls for destruction of foreign citizens and representatives of certain ethnicities and religions, the Prosecutor’s Office said on May 22.

District prosecutors submitted the applications on the basis of the Non-Profit Legal Entities Act against the two organisations – the Bulgarian National Movement Shipka and the Vassil Levski Bulgarian Military Union, registered in 2014.

The statement said that the organisations were managed by three men – which the statement identified only by their initials – DS, 62 years old, VR, 65, and IL, 30.

It said that the two organisations used social networks and electronic sites to reach like-minded people and through various publications they managed to attract sympathizers to their ideas.

Their official goals, according to the statutes of the associations, are the development and affirmation of spiritual values, civil society, healthcare, education, science, culture, technology, physical culture, as well as other activities with a “patriotic focus”.

The statement said that, however, behind these attempts to elevate the Bulgarian spirit in articles in their websites and their social networks profiles was a violation of Article 44 (2) of the Bulgarian constitution.

That article, in relation to freedom of association, says: “The organisation/s activity shall not be contrary to the country’s sovereignty and national integrity, or the unity of the nation, nor shall it incite racial, national, ethnic or religious enmity or an encroachment on the rights and freedoms of citizens; no organisation shall establish clandestine or paramilitary structures or shall seek to attain its aims through violence”.

The district prosecutors said that in investigating the organisations, texts had been found instilling hatred on ethnic and religious grounds.

Information had been collected that the organisations had arranged a form of combat training for their supporters.

“It was also established that organised visits were made to the border of the Republic of Bulgaria with the Republic of Türkiye, the purpose of which was to catch illegal migrants. There is no record of any results achieved as a result of these civilian patrols.”

In addition, the managers of the two associations maintained contacts with representatives of factions in Germany and, more specifically, with individuals known for their extreme right-wing beliefs, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

It is expected that the Varna District Court will schedule a hearing on the applications by the District Prosecutor’s Office, the statement said.

(Photo: Jason Morrison)

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