Neo-Nazi terror marked the protests in Sofia

HoRa (People-against-Racism) warns: nationalist and neo-Nazi tendencies made provocations during today’s (Feb. 24, 2013) procession, which started officially from the Ministry of Economics in protest of high electricity bills.

HoRa supports the majority of protesters in their justified criticism of the political and economic system. What follows is not an analysis of the protest as a whole. Please understand us correctly: neo-Nazis were only one part of the protesting citizens, yet they caused trouble. An initiative aimed to point out neo-Nazi activity for the purpose of citizen protection against neo-Nazi terror, we here take position on the concrete problem caused by the presence of far-rightist formations at the protest.

According to information from a HoRa activist who attended the protest as a citizen (i.e. without engaging the initiative), neo-Nazis attacked and beat other participants in today’s protests in Sofia. Attacks took place before and during the protests. The attacked were recognized as leftists, anti-capitalists, anti-authoritarians, anti-fascists, anarchists and communists. (According to the media the group Che Guevara were also attacked but we have no such information). Since the morning we have information that six members of the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, including one woman, were attacked by over 20 neo-Nazis while handing leaflets in the Kristal park. There were contusions and one person was more seriously hurt.

Here is our activist’s story:

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ENAR calls on the municipality of Sofia to forbid Lukov March




Sofia 1000, Moskovska Str. #33

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Dear Mrs. Mayor,

Re: Protest letter against Lukov March

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) wishes to support ENAR Bulgaria’s protest letter condemning the racist and extremist ‘Lukov March’ that is to be held on Saturday 18 February 2012 in Sofia, which was sent to you on 10 February 2012.

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Position of XoPa against neo-nazi procession (Lukov March)


Civil Initiative "People against Racism" (ХоРа) addresses the Municipality of Sofia and the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria with the request to interfere and ban an international neo-Nazi / racist conference on 17.02.2012. and a neo-Nazi torchlight procession (known as "Lukov March") on 18.02.2012.

Below follows the position of ХоРа sent to Mr. Daniel Kirilov (Regional Governor of Sofia), Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova (Mayor of Sofia), Mr. Elen Gerdzhikov (Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Counci), Mr. Krasimir Dimitrov (provisional  Director of Directorate "Public Order, Security and mass events") and the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria - Mr. Konstantin Penchev:





In 2012 neo-Nazi gangs from Bulgaria and other countries are planning to carry out again their so-called Lukov march on the central streets of Sofia. Under the cover of this year's slogan "Day of Heroes," the organizers intend to demonstrate once again their admiration for the openly fascist and racist views of the former minister of war and legionnaire from the time of World War II General Hristo Lukov. Further, the participants in the march use its date, February 18, as an occasion to align the anti-Semitic ideology of General Lukov with the universal values of equality and peaceful coexistence of people of all ethnicities embraced by Vasil Levski, the 19th century revolutionary who was executed on this date.

As usual, participation in the march and the organization of the event will be done by Bulgarian National Union (BNS), National Resistance (the Bulgarian formation of autonomous nationalists), Blood and Honor and other neo-Nazi formations. Their members’ hatred for what they call the "anti-Bulgarian" and "dishonorable" part of the modern population of Bulgaria - including Jews, Gypsies, foreigners, homosexuals, people with leftist political views - is overt. There are numerous cases of threats and physical assaults on “enemies" of this kind. Recently, Asen Krastev – a representative of the governing body of the Bulgarian National Union, along with another young neo-Nazi,  Stefan Mehandzhiyski, was found guilty of making and hanging а Nazi flag with a swastika on the chimney of an abandoned factory in the city of Pazardzhik.

Members of neo-Nazi and neo-fascist groups from abroad (Germany, Russia, Romania, Belgium and others), that are often banned in their own countries, also participate in Lukov march in Sofia. There has been media coverage of such relations. For instance, in December 2010 a group of German neo-Nazis visited  Bulgaria, where they organized a rock concert in Sofia and carried on gun-shooting trainings. 

On February 17, 2012 in the eve of the Lukov march the organizers plan to hold an International Conference on "The situation in Europe and the white world, with emphasis on nationalism as the only solution for saving European civilization and the white race in general" - again in Sofia.

Is there anyone who still holds illusions about the true nature of the organizers and the  march itself as a "cultural" event?

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Neo-Nazi Terror Continues - Brutal Neo-Nazi Attack on the 79 Bus Line in Sofia, Bulgaria

We received worrisome news from the Roma of Hristo Botev, a neighborhood in Sofia that experienced neo-Nazi terror last month. On November 1, the day commemorating the leaders of the Bulgarian National revival, a group of neo-Nazis committed the following crime. 

The Assault: On 1.11.2011 /Tuesday/, around 8 o’clock in the evening the 27-years-old Angel Nikolov, a student at the High Evangelical Institute of Theology, was going home after service at a church in the Hristo Botev neighborhood. He was riding the 79 bus together with Donka, around 40 years old. The two were headed toward the Filipovtsi neighborhood. One stop before the “Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, known location of past assaults, a dozen young men in skinhead “uniform” for on the bus: black jackets, army boots, shaved heads. At this point Donka and Angel were sitting three seats behind the driver, Donka occupying the window seat. They are the only Roma on the bus, carrying other passengers as well. Upon entering, the neo-Nazis notice Donka and Angel, and after a “Let’s get the ball rolling!” they jump on the two passengers, hitting them with fists and kicking them with their boots while hanging off the top handlebars of the bus.  Angel tries to protect Donka with his body, receiving multiple trauma and injuries in result. 

The Witnesses: The bus driver makes no effort to contact the police patrol on duty in the area. On the contrary, he opens the bus doors at the traffic light before the next stop, thus allowing the Nazis to leave undisturbed. Not a single person on the bus intervenes to prevent the assault or express resentment.

The Consequences: Currently Angel is in intensive care suffering concussion of the brain, hematomas of the head, and obstructed breathing due to serious contusion of the chest. His condition is highly critical because Angel has epilepsy.   

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VMRO-BND* - the Official Mouthpiece of neo-Nazism in Sofia

* VMRO-BND - Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Bulgarian National Movement

In the absence of BNS (Bulgarian National Union), VMRO-BND took on the role of the main mouthpiece of neo-Nazism in Sofia. VMRO-BND has been notorious for systematically propagating hatred against our neighboring peoples in the Balkans. More recently, VMRO-BND won the hearts of Sofia’s neo-Nazis by means of anti-Gypsy propaganda, which included as its leading slogan the destruction of the Gypsy ghettos in Sofia. 

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A Bulgarian-Roma Apartheid? We need political will to avoid it...


Interview of journalist Tímea Bakk-Dávid with Bulgarian anthropologist Stefan Krastev on the recent anti-Roma riots that shook Bulgaria. Original (in Hungarian):

How could happen that a local conflict escalated and become nationwide movement with a nationalist, racist character? What were the reasons, the social-economical background?


Perhaps the short answer to that question is that the event in Katunitsa was not just a local conflict, but a conflict which had the potential to be read by a wide array of people as an apt metaphor for what is going on in this country. There is a general sense of something broken in Bulgaria, of great social inequality and of institutions failing to provide any kind of justice, or rather, functioning to provide injustice as a norm. what happened in Katunitsa was seen as kind of concentrated image of all this in one site, at one time, and thus it was capable to invoke very strong emotional responses among great masses of Bulgarians.


The place of nationalism and racism is rather curious and troubling in this equation. For decades politicians, analysts and other opinion leaders systematically avoided any kind of social critique of the existing order. Thus such analysis became illegitimate in public discourse. The great feelings of discontent and disempowerment which are experienced by many Bulgarians during the so called transition, can only find such dangerous expressions as radical anti-systemic nationalism and racism towards minorities and foreigners.


According to the latest surveys, or Inter-ethnic Relations Barometer, can you say the majority of the people are tolerant? Or the minorities, including Roma people, faces general discrimination in your country?


Bulgarians love to think of themselves as a “naturally” tolerant nation. We most often cite the salvation of Bulgarian Jews during WW2, or the lack of violent ethnic clashes, anyhow comparable to what happened in Yugoslavia during the 1990s, as proofs of that. But of course inter-ethnic relations are not a given, but rather an indicator for a dynamic processes taking place in a society. There has always been a stable dose of latent racist attitudes towards Roma, throughout Bulgarian history, and instances of inter-ethnic skirmishes here and there have always been part of the history of shared existence here. But processes among Bulgarians and among Roma taking place for the last 20 years, change the very nature of minority-majority dynamics in Bulgaria, bringing them into the very focus of public attention, making them a means to conceptualize what has been going on in the country, making the inter-ethnic conflict a source of identification and a tool for political mobilization.

Sadly, we may say that liberal attempts since the beginning of 1990s to prevent exactly this kind of development had in fact, quite paradoxically, contributed to it, with their inadequate discourses, tactics and means of action.


Who was responsible for triggering this conflict, and who is responsible for continuing it? What should have done the Bulgarian government, and what should do now?


No doubt, if we should search for someone responsible for triggering the conflict, it is the Bulgarian state and its institutions such as judiciary and police which for decades have failed to provide justice in the case of the so called Tsar Kiro / Kiril Rashkov. It is a well known fact that he has been a generous financial sponsor to practically all political parties, as well as an important broker of Roma votes in general and municipal elections. In response to his favors, he escaped the law on many occasions. He ruled as a local landlord in the village of Katunitsa, his sons and grandsons attacking, beating and threatening people. For years villagers of Katunitsa, both Roma and Bulgarians, were filing complaints to police and prosecutors, but never received any answer. Several days before the incident, a local man reported that grandsons of Kril Rashkov were threatening him to death, and asked for police protection, but such was not provided. The continuous neglect of the state institutions and their failure to provide justice are the reason for the eruption of such a serious and violent conflict.

The conflict has been taken gladly further on by several nationalist parties which recognize in it their best chance to widen their otherwise waning electoral support before the upcoming municipal and presidential elections. It wouldn’t be unwise to suspect that at least several of the ensuing violent protests and marches that took place in the week after the incident, have been incited, coordinated and supported by these nationalist parties.


Some said that behind the protests lays social, not inter-ethnic problems. What’s your opinion about this?


It is precisely the fact that, as we said, social and ethnic problems are so intricately interwoven here, which makes this conflict so dangerous and troubling. We have real social problems and feelings among great number of people in Bulgaria, of discontent and dis-empowerment, a general feeling of failure of the whole system by which the country is governed. All these sentiments, sadly, take the form of violent anti-Roma clashes directed towards those who are the most vulnerable and unable to strike back. It is the most desperate among the Bulgarians who attack the even more desperate Roma. Most participants in the protests last week were 15-16 old boys from poor neighborhoods who have received inadequate educational and are now facing no opportunities on the labor market. If you compare their life chances with those of their Roma peers, one would find quite a similar situation of disenfranchisement. This is the revolt of the young Bulgarian underclass who realized their parents were the losers of the transition and the chances they avoid their fate are extremely slim.   


How does the Bulgarian academic community try to deal with this situation? Do they have a strategic plan or some recommendation for the Bulgarian government regarding this issue?


The Bulgarian academic community has been caught quite off guard by the sudden sprawl of ethnic hatred that we witnessed last week. This is partially due to the fact that for many years we were living in a situation of a relative ethnic peace. In constant comparison to neighboring Yugoslavia, we perceived ourselves and were perceived by the West as an island of peace and tolerance. We spoke proudly of the so called “Bulgarian model”. There have been a number of critical studies about the Roma poverty and marginalization and the raise of radical anti-Gypsism among Bulgarians, but no one could actually imagine a real conflict of such dimensions taking place.


This is perhaps the reason why academics and NGO activists never really took the Roma issues seriously. There was a whole industry of academic and applied projects of studies and social intervention towards Roma, but they were never tailored to the local context and more importantly, there were lacking a real motivation and engagement of people implementing them. For many years studies and social projects directed at solving the Roma issues were just a business, and a profitable one. No one is innocent in this process. This situation was only made possible by the hypocrisy of the European institutions, which established minority protection as part of the acquis communautaire or entering the EU, but never really had a genuine interest in guaranteeing it.


Last but not least, current clashes show the failure of the human rights approach of minority politics, which many of the most prominent academics were advocating in the 1990s and early 2000s. Minority protection was never conceptualized as an immanent need of Bulgarian society. Bulgarians were not persuaded we need to treat our Turkish and Roma compatriots equally just because it is good for the society in its own right. Instead, minority protection was always presented as requested by the Big Western Brother, part of the western-inspired reform package of transition to a market economy and democracy based on the rule of law. Consequentially, with the rise of anti-system sentiments and anti-western sentiments after EU accession in 2007, in the minds of the new angry multitudes gypsies are coupled together with all those who are to blame – politicians, westerners, liberal elites and oligarchs. In times when most people experience they are losing rights – to work, to housing, to minimal wage etc. - speaking about human rights of Roma – the only human rights discourse voiced loud enough during transition - has been perceived as establishing unjust privileges, and establishing a corrupt relationship between politicians and gypsies. This is where the liberal elites of the 1990s are guilty of paradoxically stimulating racist notions and explanations of the situation.


In you opinion how much time is needed for the parts to calm down and start thinking about their shared, common future? How long could be the reconciliation process? Is there any sign of moderation yet?


Although there are certain eruptions of tension here and there, generally two weeks after the events in Katunitsa, there are clear signs of calming down, among anti-Roma protesters and Roma communities alike. There are no great reasons for optimism in the long turn though. Apart of the nationalists, none of the mainstream parties is giving any signs that it has drawn any lesson from the critical situation. No politician has shown he or she understands the seriousness of the situation and is willing to engage with focused efforts at solving the problems. We are likely to see, and are already seeing, a wave of populist, shallow responses, such as arrest of Kiril Rashev, making a lists of “local oligarchs” and “conspicuously rich”, etc., and a wave of policing to contain rioting elements on both sides, as we already start to witness. No politician - left or right – has thus far shown any will to engage with the real structural problems both Roma and Bulgarians face in this country. The problems remain. Without addressing them with the necessary vigor and urgency, they will become more and more profound. This could result in devastating racial clashes followed by establishing disastrous apartheid-like relations between ethnic groups in many communities around Bulgaria.


Until the end of this year, every EU-country has to make a national integration plan for Roma people, and their communities as well have to participate in this planning process. What will or should the Bulgarian national Roma Strategy contain?


It is quite odd to see the EU bringing up this initiative of composing integration plans as its central measure to support Roma minorities in the member states only now in 2010. From the viewpoint of Bulgaria it is quite anachronistic. Bulgaria has a Framework Program for an Equal Integration of the Roma in Bulgarian Society, a detailed and comprehensive document developed by the widest representation of Roma activists, intellectuals etc. From all communities in the country, adopted by Bulgarian government in the remote year of 1998, there are numerous strategies which specify the necessary policies for the successful integration of the Roma in different areas such as health-care, housing, education, etc. There are plenty of strategic policy documents in any sector, at the expense of any meaningful action taken to follow up the incentives of these documents. What we lack are not more strategies, but simply political will to act to solve these problems. Politicians calculate that engagement with minority issues is a highly risky investment with very small chances of return in foreseeable future. They also calculate the great potential costs of electoral influence among majority populations. Until there is no political actor or party willing to take the risk and act to address the pressing social and structural problems of Roma and Bulgarians, we would be sinking deeper into a spiral of ethnic and racial confrontation.

source: is a Hungarian language publication


Bulgarian Roma Attacked by Neo-Nazi

The Rise of Neo Nazism in Bulgaria (Bulgarian Roma explain how they are being attacked by neo-nazi after the explosion of racial hatred in the country last week)

The conflict in the village of Katunitza is not ethnic!

On 23rd and 24th September two kids lost their lives. One was 16 and the other one - 18 years old. They fell victim of the notorious mafia boss from the village of Katunitsa, near Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The name of the mafia boss is Kiril Rashkov, a.k.a. “Tsar” Kiro, famous for his successful illegal alcohol trade.

One of the children died after his killers run him over with a minibus and dragged him for more than 10m. That took place in the village of Katunitsa. After the letal incident the local people of Katunitza went out on the streets to protest against the criminal – Tsar Kiro. The parents of the dead child have warned the police many times in the past that Rashkov is threatening them, yet the police never reacted. The murder played crucial role in unleashing people’s anger and they went out to seek justice against the mafia boss. Over 200 armed gendarme officers intervened in order to protect Tsar Kiro’s property. During the protests that have taken place for two whole days, another boy died. He had heart problems and the stress caused by the events worsened his condition fatally.

What is extremely indicative of the situation is a paper found in one of Rashkov’s cars. The document is signed by the local municipality and it basically allows the mafia boss to move freely out in the streets without having to comply with the law.

This story clearly shows that the conflict is between the ordinary citizens (their “ethnicity” does not matter) and a mafia boss who enjoys the benefits of never being punished for his actions, including actions that involve murder; because he knows that no matter what he does he will be protected by the elite police of Bulgaria. Clearly, this story has nothing to do with ethnic conflicts. In Bulgaria there are mafia bosses belonging to multiple ethnicities. Their victims belong to different ethnic groups, as well. Hence, it’s not ethnicity that matters. What matters here is the fact that the actions of mafia bosses are tolerated by the police and by the state.

What is clear in this case is that the revolt of the people of Katunitza is aimed against the painful social inequalities; against the fact that the state defends wealthy criminals but is unwilling to assure basic security (both physical and social) for its citizens. The inability to deal with these problems in a legal way leads to violent acts on the part of the people; acts that are justifiable in the context of the lawless deeds of such protected criminals against them. Because the system gives privileges to the mafia bosses and puts them before the people.

This is exactly why the authorities are afraid to “politicize” the events and they refuse to point out to the obvious, namely, the unequal treatment of citizens based on their social status. This is exactly why the Prime Minister, Borisov, announced that the events in Katunitza are not political but criminal.

As is most often the case, the blame was shifted through means of “ethnicizing” the social conflict. This means that the incident and the conflict that escalated after it were presented as a problem between “Bulgarians” and “Romas.” This is the basis of racism. One example of the letter is the decision of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization’s (IMRO) to organize an anti-Roma protest right after the incident. This is such a convenient position having in mind that the mayor of Plovdiv is part of IMRO and is, in turn, supported by GERB (the leading party in Bulgaria). Therefore, it should be IMRO that should take the direct responsibilty for what is happening in the village of Katunitza.

Moreover, the leader of the youth IMRO, Angel Djambaski (known for his frequent racist deeds) was fast to name the problem an “ethnic conflict.” This same man serves as a municipal counselor in Sofia and was elected as part of GERB’s ballot.

This is a typical case of escaping direct responsibility through racist references of ethnic conflicts where they, in fact, do not exist. The mafia boss Rashkov used the same exact tactic when he claimed that the protests against him are based on “ethnic discrimination.” It is people like him who feed racism and gain from it because this allows them to do whatever they want by transferring the blame on the already hated Roma people.

The real problem with such lies is that they are an attempt to displace the justified demands of the common people with racial prejudice and, thus try to shift the attention from these demands to ethnic conflicts and hatred. Ethnic hatred not only does not solve existing problems but is, in itself, suicidal for the society at large.

Not only the politicians but also some media presented the problem as ethnic conflict. The way they presented the events was that, on one hand the clashes are between ordinary Bulgarians and the Romas and. on the other hand, between the ordinary people and Rashkov’s family and the cops that defend him. In the police, however, there are people from different ethnic background. Thus, the conflict is not between representatives of different ethnic groups but between people angered by a criminal and the police that defends this criminal’s property. Beside all this, the fact that the local Roma population not only does not defend Rashkov but is actually standing against him, as we can see from BTV’s (one of the major TV stations) reports, is omitted from the story.

This misrepresentation of the truth is not a new phenomena. Just the fact that the media call Rashkov “the Roma boss,” “the Roma leader,” etc, is indicative. Roma people do not see Rashkov as their “boss” or their “leader” and surely not as their “Tsar.” “Tsar” is a word that Rashkov uses himself in his attempt to construct himself as a feudal: an attempt that has worked pretty successfully so far.

We, the people of the anti-racist initiative XoPa (People against Racism), are devoted to point out to the instances of racism in our society. This is exactly why we cannot ignore this emblematic case that clearly shows the roots of the problems and how racism is often used as a tool to divert attention from the just demands of the people. This is a process that, apart from everything said above, could have extremely dangerous social consequences and is a process feeding aggressive neo-Nazi formations. A clear proof of the latter is that the soccer hooligans were quick to join IMRO in their racist actions. We do believe that the media have a great deal in the responsibility for the massive neo-Nazi mobilization that occurred in Katunitza by presenting the incident as an ethnicity-based attack.
We would like to plead to all citizens not to be fooled by these racist attitudes because this is not going to solve the problem with Bulgaria’s organized crime. The mafia in Bulgaria has no “ethnicity” and nobody is secured against the mafia’s deeds.

For further information about what is happening in Katunitza you can watch the following videos:

(the neo-Nazis are screaming “all the Turks under the knife”)

(the title of the report is “Ethnically based insult set on fire Katunitza”)

Bulgarian Nationalists Demand Ban of Jehovah Witnesses

The Jehovah Witnesses are a dangerous sect and has to be abolished in Bulgaria, the nationalist VMRO party has declared in a letter sent to the Bulgarian press.

The nationalists claim they have nothing to do with Sunday's physical assault on followers of the movement.

On Sunday, five followers of the Jehovah Witnesses were injured in a clash provoked by a rally against their sect, organized by VMRO. The incident happened in the Black Sea city of Burgas, in front of the Jehovah Witnesses House of Prayer.

The attackers were football hooligans, VMRO explains in the letter, stating that the party intended to stage a peaceful protest. However, it warns that accidents like this may follow if the Jehovah Witnesses are not banned.

"If the state does not take measures against the untraditional and dangerous religions, clashes like this in Burgas will continue to happen. The citizens will react on their own when they see that the state is idle," VMRO says.

Meanwhile, the Jehovah Witnesses have said they will approach the Human Rights Court in Strassbourg, as well as the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office, about the case.

1 March 2011 Transnational Migrant Strike

Transnational Migrant Strike

On 1 March all over the world migrants stand up and organise against social exclusion, discrimination and racism. The movement started with a migrants’ strike and boycott day in the USA in 2006. Since then protests spread transnationally to different parts of the world.

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Lukov March and the neo-Nazi provocations in Bulgaria

Each year since 2005 far right, neo-Nazi, and ultra nationalist groups hold an annual commemoration of the death of gen. Hristo Lukov, the so called Lukov March.
Lukov March 2011, which will take place on the 12th of February in Sofia, already draw protests and declarations from a wide array of civic groups and human rights organizations, such as Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the Jewish organization B’nei Brit’h, and the initiative against neo-Nazism, racism and xenophobia “People against Racism”

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Violation of freedom of speech and expression in Russia: current case Oleg Mavromati

The Petition

Raise a voice in support of freedom of speech and expression! Insist on dropping charges against artists and art-show organisers in Russia.

On September 8th, 2010 Russian artist Oleg Mavromati, currently living in Bulgaria and the US, was refused renewal of his Russian passport by the Consulate of the Russian Federation in Sofia, on the grounds that Mavromati has been avoiding trial in the Russian Federation for the performance he made in 2000. If he returns to Russia he will be put on trial and faces 3-5 years of prison.

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The first-in-its- kind concert against racism and discrimination in Bulgaria!

The show, “ALARM against Racism and Discrimination,” will take place on October 9th, in Sofia, Bulgaria. The event is organized by Bulgarian Public Radio and the Sofia Municipality. Volunteers from the civic initiative “People Against Racism” will provide
organizational support for the event as well

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Open letter from the civic initiative “Stop Neo-Nazism in Bulgaria”

Open letter from the civic initiative “Stop Neo-Nazism in Bulgaria” to: NGOs, politicians, EPs, EMPs international and national governmental institutions, CSOs, media and active citizens

The civic initiative “Stop Neo-Nazism in Bulgaria” calls on citizens, politicians, NGOs, institutions and the media to take a firm stand on the multiplying cases of neo-Nazism, xenophobia and racism from far-right outfits in Bulgaria.

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Platform against the overt and covert racist, neo-nazi and xenophobic violence in Bulgaria


"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up." (January 6th, 1946 Frankfurt, Father Martin Niemöller)

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