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”.

Lukov March is organized by one of the main far right organizations in the country – the Bulgarian national Union, but it also attracts members of other informal and / or underground neo-Nazi and fascist groups such as National Resistance, Blood and Honor, far right members of football hooligan groups.

The organizers of Lukov March - Bulgarian National Union – openly proclaim they are the legitimate successor of the strongest and most important fascist organization in 1940s, during Bulgaria’s close cooperation with the nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in Germany – the Union of Bulgarian National Legions.

Gen. Hristo Lukov served as Minister of War of Bulgaria in 1935-1938, in which period the country became an official ally of Nazi Germany. Gen. Lukov was advocating for closest relations with the Hitler regime, and deploying Bulgarian troops for military operations in support of the German army on the Eastern Front during the WWII. He advocates for the adoption of very tough anti-Jewish legislation. Disappointed with the “too moderate” policies of the King Boris’s authoritarian government, he founded and led the Union of Bulgarian National Legions during the years of the Second World War. Bulgarian historians unite in their estimation of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions as “the first organization in Bulgaria, with a formed fascist character, openly promoting neo-Nazi ideas in society. In their political programs, The Legions were defending ideas for the violent transformation of Bulgarian state into a totalitarian fascist regime.

In 2010, more than 200 people gathered in the center of Sofia at Lukov March. They were marching in army lines, wearing uniforms emulating the uniforms of the historical Hitlerugend, holding burning torches and national banners. Lukov March also attracted a number of guests and representatives from similar far right and neo-Nazi groups from other European countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and Romania.

This is just one example of the provocations organized by group with neo-Nazi and fascist ideas and often paramilitary aspirations. Some more examples – on September 9th 2008 the Inner Macedonian Revolutionary organization, together with the Bulgarian national Union hold a demonstration in the center of Sofia, carrying posters and banners of the illegal neo-Nazi organization Blood and Honor. On November 8th 2008 the BNU commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht with a uniformed demonstration in front of the central office of the Trukish minority party Movement for Rights and Freedoms; on November 22nd of the same year they organize a torch march in Plovdiv, commemorating the anniversary of the Neuilly Treatment that ended the WWI for Bulgaria, carrying banners of Blood and Honor and the Wehrmacht.

The Lukov March is the most important public event of groups in Bulgarian society, which have showed open or covert adherence to fascist, neo-Nazi and ultra national-populist ideas. It is a means trough which these groups test the limits of public reaction to their fascist and ultra nationalist ideology, and make claims for public acceptance and normalization. Lukov March is especially dangerous for its impact on young people, promoting authoritarian and anti-democratic ideas under the guise of patriotism and reverence for the national war heroes.

Most importantly, Lukov March is dangerous as it contributes to the public acceptance and diffusion of ideas of hatred, intolerance and xenophobia, in a society in which economic difficulties quite often find a false expression through intolerant attitude towards the culturally or socially different, marginalized, and weaker. Year 2010 witnessed a number of alarming signs in that respect – in June 2010 a group of young people, going to a protest in solidarity with refugees and migrants, were brutally attacked by a group of neo-Nazi hooligans. Several young people were badly injured and taken to a hospital. There were also numerous occasions in which people of Roma origin, or foreigners of non-white physical appearance, were victims of racist and ultra-nationalist attacks. The last case of such an attack was reported in November 2010 when two young Roma were beaten and severely injured by a group of neo-Nazies after the football mach between CSKA Sofia and the Turkish team Besiktas

What is perhaps most alarming about Lukov March, is that despite loudly voiced protest by many civic society and human rights groups such as Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Bulgarian Activist Alliance, People against Racism, Jewish organizations etc, there has been very little reaction by the local and national authorities to stop or monitor the March.

Video materials about Lukov March:
http://logr.org/lukov/?page_id=10

http://www.youtube.com/user/bnssofiavideo

Civic initiative against Neo-Nazism, Racism and Xenophobia
“People against Racism”