Bulgaria | 02/16/2022

Bulgaria 2022 February

Besides the annual Lukov March, which is of international significance, February in Bulgaria was quite busy for the far-righters. First of all, chronologically, although a bit aside, it is worth mentioning the hysteria that gripped the nationalist circles in the country. The Ministry of Culture agreed to finance a project that focus on the new marginalized in our society — the LGBTI+ people, resting on the images of the old marginalized (late 19th, early 20th century), namely women. For this purpose, the author of the project chose to remake classic works by Vladimir Dimitrov — The Master, replacing the leading female characters with gay and trans people. This gave the opportunity for the extreme right to once again embrace the traditional image of the Bulgarian woman, her sole role as “the mother of the children of Bulgaria”, the traditional Christian family and so on and so forth. Massive consolidation in the virtual space and official media has tilted public opinion in the direction of anti-Soros rhetoric, anti-liberalism, anti-genderism, etc. In the national air, representatives of IMRO, youth and not, took part, while in the virtual space people like Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Hristo Ivanov — The German, Angel Dzhambazki, Krystian Szkwarek and others, spun the hashtag #no-to-the-joke-with-the-master which attracted reactionaries of all ages and occupations, thus gaining huge popularity.

1st February is also an official day for tribute to the victims of the “communist regime”. Traditionally the far right gathers to pay their respects at the monument in the architectural ensemble of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. One of the most important names for neo-Nazis on the memorial plaque is, of course, that of Gen. Hristo Lukov and the then Prime Minister in explicit connection with the Nazi regime in Germany Bogdan Filov. This year again representatives of the most active street and party factions in the country — IMRO, BNU, Youth Conservative Club, etc. — were at place. The official statement of IMRO’s youths states that “We will not forget, we will not forgive and as Bulgarian nationalists we must never allow communism again — neither red, nor green, nor pink or purple!” Customs dictate that on this day the entire media machine in the country, analysts, politicians and so on, should concentrate on the endless conversation about the past. The regular anti-communist rhetoric this year failed to surprise anyone.

At the 12th of February, the usual gathering at the pylons in front of the National Palace of Culture for the annual Lukov March, organized by Bulgarian National Union (BNU), split into three and took different routes. The aim was to reach the General’s resting place and eventually his home. Not one, but three marches, accompanied by boos, anti-Semitic and Nazi rhetoric, salutes, etc., defying the once again reaffirmed prohibitions on the event by the active mayor. As far as the international side of the March is concerned, we have definitive proofs for this year participation of the Ultras Not Reds (a worldwide, hooligans and ultras fascist movement) faction from Valencia (and probably elsewhere as well). Moreover, we know from French comrades, that Jeune Nation (connected to Les Nationalistes, who’s presence was also confirmed) are regular participants, at least in the past few years. There have also been delegations from Sweden’s Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), Germany’s Die Rechte, as well as Northern Macedonian associates. We can safely assume that the other members of the so-called Fortress Europe were also present. From the locals, we know for the participation of IMRO (at least their youths) and National Resistance. As in previous years, the official ban of the event by the municipality did not make it less popular, on the contrary. Nor did it make it less successful, on the contrary. This is all due to the fact that, although on paper there is a ban, in reality no one does anything to stop the neo-Nazi manifestation.

At the 19th of February, torchlight processions, honoring the national hero of the Bulgarian liberation movement Vasil Levski — the Apostle, happened both in Lovech and Burgas. The former is an annual happening by a local organization (surely close to the BNU) under the name of Lovchantsi (The People of Lovech). The very vision of the event, the specifics of the measures and the rules implied all point to a direct connection with the organizers of Lukov March. The latter, on the other hand, is organized by a local NGO registered by the name Organization for the Protection of Bulgarian Citizens (OPBC). The leader of OPBC stands behind the news/analysis online media outlet, based in Burgas, under the name Iskra.bg (i.e. Spark, with a slogan ‘Let’s light the spark!’). The same published, for instance, quite a few articles spreading the word about the newly launched fight/fitness club of the National Resistance (NR) in Sofia, interviewing people like Nikolai Yovev — Gorsky, who I have already written about previously, information of whom you can find in the website’s database. Although we do not have people on the ground in Burgas, we can safely assume that a delegation from the Plovdiv and Sofia branches of the NR and at least some of their cronies from Blood and Honour — Bulgaria were on the ground for the commemorative, torchlight procession that took place in the center of Burgas. At the same day, The Cultural Information Centre in Bosilegrad, Serbia’s Western suburbs, held a traditional tribute at the Apostle’s monument in the town. Representatives of IMRO (Dzhambazki and Ivanov, the German), BNU (Zlatomir Andronov, Plamen Dimitrov, etc.), Youth Conservative ClubPublic Alliance Veto (Tsanislav Tsanev), as well as individual representatives of the street extreme-right such as Alain Simeonov and others took part in the event.

The war in Ukraine largely unleashed the contradictions in the Bulgarian extreme right. Many (most prominently in the parliament, say for example, Revival) sided with Putin. Others, well grounded ideologically (VMRO, say) and especially in the informal structures (BNU, National Resistance) took some distinctly nationalist position on the side of Ukraine. What if we are next? — they all asked (Szkwarek from IMRO even in a post from his official Facebook page, BNU in their official position). On February 26, the marginalized Boyan Stankov — Rasate tried to take the floor at a spontaneous anti-war protest in front of the presidency. The happening was attended by leftists, antifa activists, as well as local representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian diaspora. After one of the anti-fascists announces on the microphone who Rasate is, the protesters expel him, almost violently, only then realizing that the people around the neo-Nazi in question are holding a flag of the Azov battalion. Later on, Rasate himself gave an interview in which he claimed to have gotten into a fight “with a group of infantiles walking in gay pride parades”, while at the same time he was draped in the flag in question. At the moment, however, we cannot say for sure whether any paramilitary, far-right faction from our country is involved in one way or another in the conflict on one side or the other. There is no reliable information, and the far right itself does not seem to have a distinct position on the matter.