In the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, groups of fascists in paramilitary uniforms are conducting what they describe as ‘civil patrols’. The purpose of the patrols is to stop people in the street and then demand to see their identification or immigration documentation. Leading member of the far-right National Union Party, Boyan Rasate has claimed that the city council and police force are well aware of the patrols and do not object to them.
The patrols came to light after fascists had posted stories online, describing how they have been stopping people, shining torches in their faces, demanding to inspect their documents, and making threats of violence if they did not comply
A local journalist reported that:
“Ten days ago, nationalist patrols began to pass through the capital centre. One of their leaders said they had received permission from the Ministry of Interior. This is very dangerous. There are such militias only in totalitarian countries – in Africa and Latin America – militias to walk down the streets and to ask people for their identity cards. I watch them as they stop foreigners and ask them for identity cards. Who are they and who gives them those rights? This is a very dangerous game.”
Boyan Rasate and his party have been toking up racial tensions over the last twelve months, holding rallies and marches, demanding that all refugees be deported, and calling for a ban on the sale of land to non-Bulgarians.
There are over 9,000 refugees currently living in Bulgaria, with at least 70% originating from Syria. Many live in cramped and unsanitary conditions with little food or money. Violent attacks on refugees are increasing at an alarming rate. In the last week, a Roma family out walking were attacked by a group of neo-Nazis, a Nigerian immigrant was attacked on a bus, and a shop worker was stabbed by a group of boneheads carrying a banner that read – “Death to refugees”.
Racism is being fuelled by the national media who have published a series of inflammatory, and by a Sofia MP who describes immigrants as “Cannibals” and “Islamic Fundamentalists”, and accused them of bringing crime and disease to Bulgaria.
Fascists are not just targeting immigrants - over the last year the various Bulgarian fascist groups have attacked ‘pride’ marches, and have attempted to attack and evict protesters from the recent university occupation in Sofia. Several of these groups have very recently amalgamated to form an overtly fascist party.
Earlier today several hundred antifascists marched through the Bulgarian capital to a protest rally to highlight the rise of xenophobia and of the growing fascist movement in Bulgaria.