Supporters of two nationalist parties, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (VMRO) and Ataka, staged marches this past weekend demanding the expulsion of illegal invaders and the closing of Bulgaria’s borders to refugees.
The spark for the latest protests was a high-profile stabbing of a Sofia shop assistant by a nonwhite invader identified in local media reports as an Algerian or of Arab origin, who had apparently illegally entered the country through its border with Turkey.
The marches took place in Sofia on November 3 and the border town of Elhovo on November 2.
The Ataka march on November 2 included Ataka MPs and local leaders of the party, and was held on the theme of “say no to the Muslim refugee wave”.
In Sofia on November 3, an Ataka protest outside the Interior Ministry saw participants holding posters reading, “You feed them, they stab us”.
Ataka leader Volen Siderov said that illegal migrants should be banished, not accommodated. Siderov also criticised President Rossen Plevneliev for not convening the Consultative Council on National Security to discuss the refugee situation.
According to Siderov, Plevneliev was breaking the law by not convening the council, a statutory body chaired by the head of state and including the leaders of all parties represented in Parliament along with security and intelligence ministerial and departmental chiefs.
Local media said that the VMRO protest in Sofia on November 3 was joined by thousands of people, chanting slogans such as “Bulgaria for Bulgarians; refugees get out”.
In response to the protests, the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office has initiated a pre-court proceeding against Angel Dzhambazki, deputy chairperson of VMRO, in connection with statements by him on November 3, allegedly inciting discrimination and violence.
The pre-court proceeding is a response to a complaint by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee about crimes committed during a rally organised by VMRO-BND in Sofia on November 3. The pre-court proceeding is against Angel Dzhambazki and other, so far unknown, people.
The investigation relates to claims at the rally by speakers that the city must “be cleansed”, that “self-defence actions must be taken” and the “establishment of volunteer’s patrols and units” so as “to introduce order”, the Prosecutor’s Office said.