This November, the situation in Bulgaria was relatively turbulent. For 14th of November, the third emergency parliamentary elections for the year were combined with the presidential ones. Only one far-right political party made it into the parliament. Kostadin Kostadinov’s Vazrazhdane, which was extremely active during the anti-Covid protests around the country (as a result mainly of their campaign strategy — i.e. anti-vaccination, anti-measures, pro-“normalcy” populist trajectory), took just above 1% over the minimum needed for entering the National Assembly. In the week previous to the elections, they had open meetings in the street of cities like Sofia and Varna, at which Kostadinov gave out his “Homeland Studies Textbook” (for 1st to 4th grade in primary schools) to the passers-by and their children. He claims there that “Bulgaria is a country more than 14 centuries old, which makes it the oldest in Europe and [a country] which bears the same name since its foundation [… as well as that] the Bulgarians are the creators of one of the 12 civilizations in human history […]”.
Vazrazhdane managed to enter 13 people within the 240 deputy seats of the parliament. If we try to analyze their rise from outright marginals (during the past 5-6 years) to accomplices in legislative body, however, we will notice that their victory is at the expense of older and self-discredited far-right parties (such as IMRO, ATTACK and NFSB), which did tragically in the last elections. Moreover, Vazrazhdane — even though on the outside looks as a traditional leader-oriented party — for most of their social and street presence depends almost entirely on their local activists (especially in Varna, Kostadinov’s hometown.)
Thankfully, Vazrazhdane won’t be part of the governmental coalition, which is already being formed and could any moment step in charge of the political life in the country. But let’s not be hasty, given that the history of the last few governments (back to the rise of ATTACK in 2005) has proved that the presence of even a minority of pro-fascist but noisy and populist deputies in the parliament is capable of shifting the political discourse to its limits. Furthermore, their presence has often been used to push forward unpopular policies favouring the capitalist classes and the state, being disguised as “national salvation” strategies and, by themselves, quite well fertilised by the other political forces represented in the Assembly. This time those forces, by the way, differs dramatically at least in faces, if not in policy programs and pre-election promises. (I will link a good analysis the moment one comes out in English; we are expecting one soon, probably in Jacobin.)
Just after the elections’ day, however, the situation began to escalade. The center-right populist party of the ex-prime minister Boyko Borisov, i.e. GERB, which was governing the country for the past 13 years, managed to send their candidate to presidential ballotage. The pro-Turkish party, by the name of Movement for Rights and Freedoms (Bulgarian: Dvizhenie za prava i svobodi, DPS; Turkish: Hak ve Özgürlükler Hareketi, HÖH), which lost the presidential race, campaigning with their leader, backed GERB‘s candidate against the acting independent president Rumen Radev. On 18th of November, after the acting interim-interior minister Boyko Razkov announced that the Turkish government had encouraged its citizens on national airwaves to vote in the ballot, a protest broke out in front of the Turkish embassy in the capital city of Sofia. Local Antifa activists are still trying to identify the organisations and far-right actors involved in the event. The chants ran in the traditional xenophobic, nationalistic tropes: “Death to the Turks!”, “Gypsies on soap!”, “Long live Bulgaria!” and so on. Although relatively small, the event blocked a key avenue in the capital and let to clashes with the police. I do suppose, however, that one of the initiator of the event is Stanislav Tsanov — famous far-right vlogger and ex-journalist in the still-operating (even though on its dead bed) ‘Alfa TV’, owned by Volen Siderov and functioning as an official platform of ATTACK political party.
On the eve of the elections, however, on Saturday, November 13th at 6:30 pm, an horrible scene of violence took place in the park lane of the National Theatre (situated in front of the Ministry of Defence, again in Sofia). A group of teenagers between 15 and 23 years old were listening to music on their phones. The style, according to a local LGBTQ+ portal, was “anti-fascist punk”. One of the boys and one of the girls has a split eyebrow. The girl’s eye is full of blood and half closed and she cannot see with it. Her temple is bruised too. Their attackers were in their 30s-to-late-30s with “beards and black clothes”. One of them “was wearing a sweatshirt with a Hitler’s quote from a neo-Nazi anthem. All were wearing identical black cubicles with metal bombs, rings with Celtic crosses and an eagle.”
They are stepping up to the teenagers yelling ,’Are you Antifa?’ They’ve answered, ‘Yes.’
Then one of the attackers punch one of the girls in the face. A boy from her group stands up to defend them. The attackers hit him as well. The attackers then hit the first girl again. One of the girls from teenagers group comes to her rescue saying, “It’s not normal to hit 15 year old girls!”. “We’ll call more people to sweep you out of here!” the attackers retort, then kick the girl in the leg and run away in the direction of the National Theatre.
Later through the month, what has become an annual protest over violence against women and gender-based violence in general (taking place on the International Day for Fighting Violence against Women — i.e. 25th November) has generated controversies in the mass and social media. Although the manifestation took place in few different cities across the country, namely Varna, Veliko Tarnovo and Stara Zagora, there was a serious tension only in the capital city of Sofia (which is capital of the fascism as well). Alexander Alexandrov (part of BNU-Edelweiss), Hristo Ivanov ‘The German One’ (leader of IMRO’s youth organisation and candidate for deputy on the same’s list at the elections this report was dealing with above), Alain Simeonov (who initiated the ‘pedophiles hunts’) and few other male far-right actors (still unrecognised) attended the event. Despite the police presence, fascists were able to get to the building’s stairs completely unhindered. They stood in front of the women who had come to share their experiences and personal stories of violence and suffering, of institutional and societal indifference. The fascists from the BNS and IMRO stirred up the speakers and, in addition to waving a huge Bulgarian flag, tried to unfurl a large banner whose message was that the “biological Bulgarian woman” is only a mother and that “gender ideology” must be fought by all means. The police who had to be aware for provocations and for the safety of all attendees, got involved only after the organizers made requests to them over the microphone to intervene and take the group out.
The fascists were then escorted by law enforcement a few dozen yards away and a cordon was formed to keep them safe. They were also allowed to unfurl their woman-equals-mother banner on one of the police vans. Meanwhile, a protester was knocked to the ground and surrounded by eight police officers, after which he was arrested for throwing a water bottle at the provocateurs’ banner. A girl from the protest was pulled by her scarf by one of them while police officers pushed her in the opposite direction, effectively choking her, while other women were shoved, punched and threatened by law enforcement themselves. Just after they’ve left unharmed, the fascists shared a live video concerned with “what really happened” at the protest on their Facebook page around 21:30. During the video, four of the group said they — the Bulgarian nationalists and patriots — were the only ones who could “defend Bulgarian women” from violence. Apparently, during the protest, as well as the live, Alain Simeonov was wearing t-shirt of the Russian Nazi music band M8L8TH with their 2017 album cover by the name “Luciferian Aesthetics of Herrschaft”. This is the very same band whos front man, Alexey Levkin, was recognized as the ideological mentor of the Christchurch’s terrorist Brenton Tarrant. One might suspect that Simeonov is part of the same neo-Nazi network identified with Wotanjugend (M8L8TH’s telegram chat) and the neo-Nazi black metal scene (NSBM) in general.