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Far-right nationalists rally in Bulgarian capital

February 18, 2018

Hundreds of Bulgarian nationalists have marched in Sofia in an annual celebration of World War II general Hristo Lukov, a Nazi collaborator. The city government was unsuccessful in its attempt to stop the demonstration.

Nationalists hide their faces during a march in Sofia, Bulgaria
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/V. Petrova

Hundreds of Bulgarian nationalists marched in the capital, Sofia, on Saturday in an annual demonstration paying homage to General Hristo Lukov, who was known for his anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi activities during World War II.

The city government had tried to ban the march, saying it harms the country's interest during a time when Bulgaria holds the six-month rotating EU presidency. However, organizers were able to convince a court to overturn the ban.

Read more: Bulgaria takes over EU presidency in turbulent times

Dozens of members of far-right groups from across Europe also took part in the march.

Robert Eklund from the Nordic Resistance Movement said he was in Bulgaria "to fight a common enemy — multiculturalism, globalization and the EU."

"We object to being called anti-Semites, neo-Nazis or fascists. We are simply nationalists," rally leader Zvezdomir Andronov told Agence France-Presse.

Lukov was Bulgaria's minister of war in the run-up to World War II, a position he used to cultivate close ties to the Nazi party. After retiring from his ministerial post in 1938, he used his considerable clout in support of a version of Germany's anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws. He was killed by anti-fascists in 1943.

'Nazi supporter who promoted hate'

The "Lukov" March has been held in Sofia every year since 2003, orchestrated by the far-right Bulgarian National Union.

The marchers wore dark clothing and walked through the capital carrying torches and Bulgarian flags.

Bulgaria's government, human rights groups, the Jewish World Congress and the United States have all condemned the event.

"General Hristo Lukov was a Nazi supporter who promoted hate and injustice, and is not someone deserving of veneration," the US Embassy in Sofia said in a statement.

es/cmk (AP, dpa, AFP)

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