BHC: The illegal violence against the tent camp in front of the Soviet Army Monument must be investigated and sanctioned

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee strongly condemns the attack on demonstrators in front of the Soviet Army Monument by individuals wearing distinctive symbols associated with FC "Levski," as reported on Friday, which resulted in at least two people being injured. The police have reported four individuals detained in connection with the incident, but as of now, the prosecutor's office has not announced the initiation of any criminal proceedings.

This incident is another in a series of manifestations of football hooliganism in Bulgaria and demonstrates an anti-democratic ideology. Similar violence directed towards people from ethnic minorities, migrants, the LGBTI community, human rights defenders, as well as left-wing activists, has been well-documented and known to the authorities for years. However, decisive measures against it are lacking.

Undoubtedly, public criticism and calls for the removal of a clearly totalitarian symbol, such as the Soviet Army Monument, are entirely legitimate. Nevertheless, illegal violence against people participating in peaceful discussions about the fate of the monument is unacceptable. Such violence constitutes a criminal offense of a general nature and should be promptly and vigorously investigated.