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Bulgarian nationalists remember pro-Nazi general with torch march



SOFIA (Reuters) – More than 2,000 traveling activists from several European countries were launched in Sofia in Saturday to honor a Bulgarian Nazi general, despite opposition from the Balkan political parties and Jewish groups.

The procession, known as Lukov March after Hristo Lukov, who led the Nazi union of Bulgarian national legions in the 1930s and early 1940s, continued after a court violated the Sofia municipality's ban in another year in a row.

Members and supporters of several nationalist organizations participate in a march for holiday of beds General Hristo Lukov, a Bulgarian army commander in Sofia, Bulgaria on February 16, 2019. The banner reads "Together for Europe".
REUTERS / Stoyan Nenov

Participants, mostly young men in dark clothes, many load-bearing swastikas and make the Nazi greeting, make garlands in Lukova's former home in the midst of heavy police security. Some activists had come from Germany, Sweden, Hungary and elsewhere.

"General Lukov was a brave military officer – a war hero who inspired the revival of the Bulgarian army," said Zvezdomir Andonov, one of the march organizers.

A man wearing a vintage military uniform participates in "Lukov March", staged by the far right Bulgarian national union in Sofia, Bulgaria, Saturday, February 16, 2019. Ignoring strong condemnation by human rights groups, political parties and Foreign Embassies marched Bulgarian nationalists through the country's private equity funds and Bulgarian flags and chanting nationalist slogans to honor another World War II known for its anti-Semitic and Nazi activities.
(AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda)

Prior to March, hundreds of people participated in a counter-protocol under the slogan "No Nazis on the streets". Police did not report any incidents during the protest or March.

A child holds a flare when people participate in "Lukov March" staged by the far right Bulgarian national union in Sofia, Bulgaria, Saturday, February 16, 2019. Ignoring strong condemnation by human rights groups, political parties and foreign Embassies Bulgarian nationalists marched through the country's torch and Bulgarian flags and chanting nationalist slogans to honor another world war's general known for its anti-Semitic and Nazi activities.
(AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda)

The Jewish congress of the world, other Jewish groups and the political parties of Bulgaria had called for suspension.

"It is utterly abominable that in 2019 in Europe, the place where the Nazis attempted to eradicate the entire population of Jewish men, women and children, far right-wing, continues to parade unimpeded through the streets with swastikas, SS symbols and messages of hatred for Jews and other minorities, "says WJC Executive Vice President Robert Singer.

A man holding a flare called genre Hristo Lukov, who had supported Germany during World War II, depicted on his t-shirt when people participate in "Lukov March" right Bulgarian national union in Sofia, Bulgaria, Saturday 16 February 2019. Bulgarian nationalists have marched through Sofia, the country's capital, to honor another world war's general known for its anti-Semitic and Nazi activities. The annual Lukov March, organized by the far right Bulgarian National Union, attracted hundreds of dark-haired followers who walked through the prisons in the center of Sofia and Bulgarian flags and chanting nationalist slogan.
(AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda)

Lukov's Union, active from 1932 to 1944, expressed anti-Semitism, anti-communism and one-party state.

A supporter of a nationalist organization participates in a march for public holiday by late General Hristo Lukov, a Bulgarian army commander in Sofia, Bulgaria on February 16, 2019.
REUTERS / Stoyan Nenov

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Lukov served as the Bulgarian War Minister from 1935-1938, which made close relations with senior Nazi officials in Germany. He also pushed through a law modeled on the Nuremberg Law of 1935 in Germany, which removed the Jews from their civil rights. Lukov was murdered by Communist partisans in 1943.

Members and supporters of several nationalist organizations participate in a march for public holidays by late General Hristo Lukov, a Bulgarian army commander in Sofia, Bulgaria on February 16, 2019.
REUTERS / Stoyan Nenov

Bulgaria fought in World War II on Germany's side, although the government of King Boris III refused Adolf Hitler's demand to postpone the country's Jews to death camps in Nazi Poland and elsewhere. This meant that most of Bulgaria's Jews were not killed in the Holocaust and survived the war.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Gareth Jones)


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