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February 23, 2020 7:10 pm

Jewish Organizations Hail Bulgarian Government for Stymieing Annual Neo-Nazi March

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Members and supporters of several nationalist organizations take part in a march in commemoration of late General Hristo Lukov, a Bulgarian army commander, in Sofia, Bulgaria, February 16, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov.

Jewish organizations on Sunday hailed the Bulgarian government’s decision to ban an annual neo-Nazi torch-lit march in the country’s capital of Sofia.

The “Lukov March” has been held since 2003 under the leadership of the far-right Bulgarian National Union party. It honors Hristo Lukov, a World War II-era Bulgarian minister of war who led the pro-Nazi Union of Bulgarian National Legions, an important ally of Hitler in the Balkans that assisted in the deportation of thousands of Jews to the Nazi death camps. Lukov was assassinated in 1943 by anti-Nazi resistance fighters.

This year, the march was stymied by court proceedings, which banned the event while allowing flower-laying at Lukov’s home. Only 60 people came out for the occasion.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said in response, “For the first time in more than a decade, the Jewish community of Bulgaria has been spared its yearly day of fear and apprehension from shameful flame-wielding thugs who parade through the streets to glorify the very ideology that brought the near destruction of the Jewish people.”

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“At this frightening time of rising antisemitic activity across the world, this is a moment of true victory for the Jewish community, the people of Bulgaria, and all promoters of justice and tolerance worldwide,” he added.

He thanked a large group of officials and activists who led the struggle against the march, including Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.

“Our partnership to ensure the safety and security of the Bulgarian Jewish community has always been extremely positive and receptive, and the government’s proactive efforts in recent years in mobilizing to ban the march despite the many legal obstacles is a clear testament to its true support and friendship,” he said.

“This year, only a few dozen neo-Nazi thugs showed up,” Lauder noted. “Next year, let’s hope that the month of February will pass without a single disturbance of this kind.”

David Harris of the American Jewish Committee also praised the Bulgarian authorities, tweeting, “We applaud Bulgaria’s judicial & political steps to stop Lukov March in Sofia on Feb. 22. The march glorifies Nazism, draws extremists from near & far, & poses a danger.”

“It has no place in Bulgaria, which values intergroup harmony & has a proud record of saving 50k Jews in WW2,” he added.

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