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(en) Bulgaria, Interview with anarchists from Sofia

From Zaczek <hydrozag@poczta.onet.pl>
Date Sat, 7 Dec 2002 16:59:47 -0500 (EST)


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Hi,
there been some questions recently about Bulgarians,so hereīs quite fresh
interview which our friend fromOAP(Leipzig)made with an anarchist group in
Sofia.It didnīt fit into new issue of "Abolishing...",we will print it
later,so...
Muri(Abolishing the borders from below")

BULGARIA IN THE NATO = NOW
interview with the anarchist group in sofia

Oh no, please switch off this horrible video. I know itīs interesting, to
watch the video film after a protest-action, but this group of protesting
people with the Anti-NATO transparent can not reduce, den bitter taste, that
remains from hundreds of, mostly young people, waving enthusiasticly small
flags. One side of this small flags is with the bulgarian and the other side
with the NATO-flag. Hard to believe, but this seems to be really no kind of
fun-action und and they also not looking like getting payed for this. Is
there so small choice of entertainment in Sofia, that people have to
freak-out on listening awkward Pro-NATO Songs of an indifferent Hip-Hop
Band? After the last disapointing years of post-socialistist corruption- and
mismanagement, people, especially this ones who want to live like in a
western country as soon as possible, seem to lose also their last critical
thinking and urge on independence: "No more experiments; adaptation as soon
as posible. As quick as possible in the EU.", or as you can see sometimes on
big advertisings: BULGARIA IN THE NATO = NOW !!!
The Anarchist Group in sofia came together here for "sit pleasantly
together" and give an interview. Normaly, there is not information from this
people in bulgaria, because here is not so much happening, compared to other
countrys. At least the first thing we will change now.

lydia: We heard about your group here in sofia and want to know more about
you and the things you are doing here. How did it start, since how long does
the group exist etc. ?

m: The first contacts we had, when we met, looking for contacts with other
anarchists, in the office of the old anarchists from F.A.B. (Anarchist
Federation of Bulgaria). We started with pure theoretically work and the
publishing of anarchist and anticapitalist ideas on the website "Anarchy In
Bulgaria". Later we started the webmagazine "Chliab I Svoboda" (Bread &
Freedom), and the newspaper "Anarcho Asprotiva1" (Anarcho Resistance).
About our old anarchists from F.A.B.: many of them spent most of their life
in camps like Belene2 and in prison. Now they are publishing a little bit
classical anarchist literature and the newspaper "Svobodna Misal" (Free
Thought), which comes out together with our newspaper "Anarcho Asprotiva".
One of them Georgi Konstantinov blew a stalin-memorial, i think in 1956. He
was sentenced to death and the only thing that saved him was the soon
following death of stalin, so that they changed into 20 years prison. After
10 years he got released and he managed to escape to france short after
this. After the Change in 1989 he came back to bulgaria.
There is also a group of old Anarcho-Syndikalists (Ex-Bulgarien
Confederation of Labour). One of them - Nikola Mladenov - is now about 94
years old and took part on the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s.
Meanwhile there is not so much happening with them anymore, because they are
all more than 80 years old now. But the office of F.A.B. was always and
still is a good point to get in touch with other people and because of the
big collection of material, itīs a good theoretical base.
Yeah, and sometime we was enough people to think about our own actions.

lydia: What kind of actions was that?

T: The very first one was maybe not so interesting. We gave leaflets about
the situation in bulgaria and the history of First of May, on the official
First of May-celebration of communists3 and socialists. The funny thing was,
that they didnt realize, that we was not there to celebrate with them and
some old women even walked around with our leaflets with the big circle-A.
After that, there was this protest-action in july 2001, because of the
murder of Carlo Guiliani during the riots in Genua. Accidently we met one
day before , again through F.A.B., some people from the Antifa in Germany.
Together with them we spontainly decided to do our first open action on an
Global Action Day.
It was so spontain, that most people of our group could not manage to be
there in the right time. Thatīs why we was just 8 people, who went to the
italien-embassey with transparents and flags. On this action also people
from the communist-group "Che Guevara" took part. One of us then layed down
infront of the entrance ketchup-bleeding with a mask, as the dead Carlo
Guiliani.

The whole situation was very funny. Imagine that, in the center of Sofia...
Many people was very unsure and asked what happend and if we need help. From
this point it was not so important, with how many people we did this action,
with this massive publicity, we got from people passing bye, it was a big
success. The security guard of the embassey was really relaxed and just
confined himself on his basic dutys. When the police came finally (old
school Lada-eastbloc-Style, comment of interviewer) just one unenthusiastic
guy with open shirt (cliché-breasttoupet, conventional picture of bulgarian
blacksea coast-bus driver, comment of the interviewer) came out of the car,
asked whatīs happening here and disappeared.
This action was very important for us, because it was first time that we
showed up like this in public. Before we always made just this poster- and
leaflet-actions.
The next day there was an article in the local newspaper, which was mainly
O.K. But about 6 weeks later one of the most popular newspapers in Bulgaria
used this action as the topic on their frontpage and asked what will happen
if all the anti-globalists will come to Sofia, with his police that is not
prepared for situations like this. They well-directed raised peoples fear.
The good thing was: through this article also new people came to us, because
they first time heard about our group. Maybe b. can tell more about this...
b: Yes, through this article i realised, that there is people in Sofia, who
are interested in globalisation, so that there was also positive results
from this bullshit. Some weeks later i got first time the newspapers
"Anarcho Asprotiva" and "Svobodna Misal" and during the protest infront of
the US-embassey against the afghanistan-war plans, i came to this group.
t: This protest was accidently 2 hours before the bombing started. Actually
we went there, because of the self engaging of the bulgarien goverment, to
support this war active if required, although bulgaria is not in the NATO
untill now.
The cops at first didīnt know what to do and called around for new orders.
After half an hour they took hour personal details and gave us to understand
that the things like democracy and peacefull protest are something nice, but
we better disappear now, otherwise...
lydia: That sounds like you have been the only group that made any kind of
protest against this here. Dont you have at least some kind of
peace-demonstrators?
m: No, nothing. Here we have just some NGO`s, but from this side nothing
happend. When the NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 just a handfull of communists
made protest. In this time "Che Guevara"-group was founded. At the time of
the Afghanistan War-protest this group didīnt exist anymore. Bulgaria opend
his air-corridor for NATO-bombers in this time, although many people was
against it. One of the bombs they unfortunately lost here in Sofia. Luckily
just the roof of a house was blown away...
t: Another good action was our First of May-Demonstration 2002. We
demonstrated with about 25 people for 6-hour-working-day, in the center of
Sofia. There was really people who said: "Eh, look at this young guys! They
want 6-hours-working-day! People here in Bulgaria work more then 16 hours
per day! You lazy young people want just 6 hours..." and bullshit like this.
We just said: "If you really want 16 hours - you should do that...!"
Later we tried to explain them the main idea, that came from the fight for 8
hour working day in the past, when there was also people who worked more
than 10 hours a day and a lot of unemployment. Itīs just, to share the work
among the people - more people for the same work. But they said: "...and
then they cut our payment!".
lydia: ...and do not realize , that they wouldīnt have to work longer with
fair payment.
t: They just think about themselfes.
m: It was very paradox, because most of this people have been socialists.
Later the cops startet to ask for a permission for our black-flag and stuff
like this.
lydia: What kind of other subjects do you have? Do you also work for other
themes like feminism, ecologie, animal rights etc., or are you just busy
with fighting for work?
m: No no, we are not just fixed on that. For example we worked together with
an ecologic group "Za Zemjata" (for the earth). They are NGOīs, but we did
also some actions, from which we think thatīs O.K., with them. Normal, legal
things like mountain-cleaning and actions for bicycle-ways4.
But with them we made also an Antiglobalisation-Action. At the meeting for
the Balcan Stability Pact we critisiced, that all this things are just for
the use of this countrys with the better economy again.
On many subjects like feminism and homosexuality we have worked just
theoretically untill now. We have a lively exchange with people from other
countrys, when they come here. Another important theme is of course Antifa.
lydia: Perfect change. My next question is the obligate - about the
nazi-problem. How does it look like, here in Bulgaria and Sofia?
In WWII Bulgaria was an ally of Nazi-Germany and of course we have people
who are proud about this and they say everthing was better in this time.
Also now after the Change everbody hates communists, and communists are
antifascists...
For them the Nazi-Years was a great time: we occupied our neighbours, that -
of course - belong to us and Great-Bulgaria was united. It helps the people
to bear the complex, that lasts on them today. There is also people who say
that bulgariens are Ariens; Bulg-Ariens, not Slawiens.
Most of the young people are nationalists. Also on football-fans nationalist
and racist-attitude is very common and people like Gypsies, Jews, and Turks5
are always welcome to blame them for the misery of the people.
All the classical nazi-shit is free and without comments available. One year
ago they postet Hitler-posters in public. We have laws against the spreading
of fascist ideologies, but in fact nobody cares about.
There is also a lot of legal support-actions and money behind them.
m: An interesting story connected with this: About 2 years ago, at the
celebration of the birthday of Hristo Botev, one of our national heros, some
of this Che Guevara-people showed a transparent with the NATO-Symbol looking
like a swastika. They got arrested and sentenced because of showing a
swastika. On every big football-game you can see flags with swastikas and
nobody cares. Thatīs a good example how they use the Anti-Nazi-Laws against
antifascists.
lydia: What about parties and organisations?
t: One of the most famous is the nationalist-party VMRO6 (Internal
Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation), another is BNRP (Bulgarian
National-Radical Party) and since maybe one year BNS7 (Bulgarian National
Union), the most radical of them. We attack each others websites
regularly...

lydia: Do you fight in direct-action against nazis or do you have to defend
yourself on the streets?

m: Some people from our group and from Ex - Che Guevara go regularly looking
for nazis...

lydia: What do they say about Bulgarias joining to the EU?

m: They are against it. Sometimes they make comments on our guestbook, like
that itīs good, that we do something against NATO. But we cleared our
position, that no matter if we have the same or similar subjects sometimes,
we dont cooperate with nationalists or nazis.

lydia: I dont know if you heard about this - in germany the nazis demonstrat
e for the rights of the palestinians. They say they are their allys against
the jews and even wear the so called palestinian-scarf sometimes. How is it
here?

b: Very interesting (general merriment), and in the same time they may be
beat them... They dont have a common position about this here. Of cause they
also say, that this bad jews kill the poor palestinians, but it doesnt go
that far, that they start to fight for the rights of some muslims. Because
of our 500 years turkish history and the resulting turkish-muslim population
here, they have an strong aversion against muslims.

lydia: How is the situation in general here in Bulgaria - the mood among the
people?

b: The most people are of course not satisfied with the situation, but they
are to passive and dont have the courage to change something. Itīs a
difficult and hard live for many people here and there is many things that
have to change. But if you are always busy to get just the basic needs for
life, there is mostly not much time left, to do something else.

lydia: Bulgaria is on the way in the NATO now...

m: Yes, this intensive campaign for that started short after the
Yugoslawien-War. Not many people critisize the NATO-Joining and the
promotion is a big success, as you could see on the video before.

Once again about the article about the "Impending Anti-Globalists" in
Sofia... Of course that was not without reason. There was plans for a
NATO-meeting one month later (27. 09. 01) here and with things like this
they brought the people in the right mood and the police coult put themself
in the limelight as the guards of law & order. Sofia was blocked with 6000
policemen, what is very much in this country. We remained quite in this time
and the Che Guevara-people had to sign something, that they do not take part
on protests.

lydia: Is there a ban of wearing masks here in bulgaria?

m: I dont think that there is something like this existing in our laws, but
for us this question is not relevant anyway. With this unfortunately small
number of people we are moving untill now, itīs not very clever to show us
aggressive; the most people still associate masks with terrorists. And it
also makes it more easy to criminalize the people.

lydia: What contacts in foreign countrys do you have - how far do you work
together?

t: We have contacts with people, mostly anarchists, from countrys like
Greece, Serbia, USA, Switzerland and Germany. But this is mostly limited on
the exchange of articles for the respective newspapers. Otherwise, we are
most time busy with our own problems here - trying to "catch" new, young
people for instance. If people come to visit us, they of course take part on
our actions. In opposite case itīs more difficult for us to take part on
actions outside Bulgaria, because of the high costs.

lydia: What plans for the future do you have?

t: We urgently need something were we can meet; what we can use as a
infoshop, for publishing, for media-exchange and things like this. Right now
we are always meeting in pubs and thats not very comfortable for discusions.
There is also no place to go, for people who want to meet us and thatīs
really necessary to connect each other.
We have a lot of sympatisants, many people read our newspaper and say: "Oh,
thats good, youīre making here - when is the next edition coming?". But if
the next action is happening...
lydia: Thanx for the interview and all the best.

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