Sofia City Court finds Volen Siderov guilty of harassment of ethnic Turks

Sofia, 8 April 2008 - The Sofia City Court has found Volen Siderov guilty of discriminatory statetements against the ethnic Turks in Bulgaria. Some of the statements, made in 2003-2005, claim:

"Bulgaria's state television, set up with our money, is broadcasting news on a language we don't understand. And for many Bulgarians this language is not a pleasant thing to hear, because it reminds them of the language of those who committed a genocide over the Bulgarian nation for many years.”

"[... ] irrespective of all historical facts, which point to the fact that a genocide had been carried out on the Bulgarian Christian population for centuries. And it was carried out by people who speak a language you just heard on the 'News'.”

The court took its decision on 13 March, but it was officially released yesterday. According to the court, Siderov had created a hostile and threatening environment for the Bulgarian Turks by implicating a connection between them and events from the past and an uncertain future. The court established that with these statements Siderov had carried out harassment on the basis of ethnic belonging. The court sentenced Siderov to refrain from making such statements against the ethnic Turks in the future.

The lawsuit was filed by the singer Sunai Chalakov under the Protection from Discrimination Act, with the support of the Citizens Against Hatred Coalition.

This is the second court decision against Siderov, which finds him guilty of hate speech against ethnic minorities in Bulgaria. In August 2005, the Sofia District Court held that such hate speech constitutes a violation not only of the legal rights of minorities, but also of the public interest.

For more information, please get in touch with Margarita Ilieva, tel. +3592 943 4405; +359 887 416 523.