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Persecution of young anarchist in Bulgaria

by Peter from IMC Bulgaria Thursday, Jul. 29, 2004 at 2:17 AM

The political elite in Bulgaria, under uncrowned King Simeon II as Prime Minister, is closely allied to Washington and NATO. Specially beholden to the Bush administration and engineering its own new forms of Homeland Security, the political class in Sofia is now engaged in new efforts to suppress and silence dissent, branding anarchists as a threat to “national security.” The most flagrant example of this new wave of repression against alternative expression in the country is the arrest of Elitsa, a 20-year-old anarchist in mid-July, in the city of Dobrich in far northeastern Bulgaria.

Elitsa has been charged with “crimes against the Republic of Bulgaria.” Her “offense”: passing out and pasting up leaflets in her hometown over the past two months, calling for more freedom, equality and people’s autonomy, and selling back issues of the Bulgarian anarchist journal Svoboden Misl (Free Thought).

This magazine, one of the few anti-authoritarian publications in Bulgarian, is a legal periodical issued in Sofia by the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria and distributed across the country. Section 108 of the Bulgarian Criminal Code under which she has been charged speaks of spreading “fascist ideology and terrorism.”

Elitsa’s ordeal: One morning in July at 5 a.m., the local police descended on her home, confiscating literature, the hard disk of her computer and other “evidence,” and dragging her in for six hours of grilling and interrogation, with no lawyer present. Elitsa can be sentenced to up to three years behind bars for her “crime” of speaking out on behalf of freedom and an “alternative future” for Bulgaria. Her email also appears to have under surveillance by the State Security Agency, trying to track her “contacts” in Bulgaria and abroad; her password was altered without her knowledge. Eli’s phone was apparently also tapped by State Security, but she has been unable to determine the nature of other “material” to be used against her in court in this patent bid to intimidate and silence dissent.

She is apparently now “released” on her own recognizance, but any “literature” she “dares” to distribute must first be approved by a police inspector. The shop “Na Tumna” in Dobrich which has had several copies of the journal Svoboden Misl for sale has also reportedly been under daily police surveillance and harassment.

Eli's arrest and harassment comes as numerous municipalities in Bulgaria vie to attract at least three U.S. bases now held out as carrots by the Pentagon – despite mounting outrage among millions of Bulgarian citizens over the Bulgarian military presence (470 troops) in Iraq, the recent killing of two hostages, and the continuing NATOization of public discourse. Meanwhile, popular discontent festers over the dire economic situation in the country, where millions are living on a day or less. The large Roma minority, the second largest Rom community in Eastern Europe, has been reduced to squalor, turned into a vast discriminated underclass, with the highest levels of unemployment anywhere in Europe. Over 13 percent of the Bulgarian population has emigrated abroad in search of economic survival since the advent of “freedom” in November 1989.

In early April of this year, another incident of police harassment and surveillance of anarchists for expressing their views publicly was reported from the village of Kochan in southwestern Bulgaria. An arc of repression against young anarchists can be traced from the country’s far northeast to the far southwest.

Bulgaria is a small cog in the machinery of Control being fashioned by the War Party on the Potomac, what David Hodge has called the planetary “Disequilibrium Machine.” The Bulgarian people deserves autonomy. Its economy need not be a vassal of NATO, a colony of the EU, its narrow neoliberal elite currying favor with Brussels, the White House and Pentagon. Public opinion surveys show that a vast majority of Bulgarians want Bulgarian troops out of Iraq. And wish to be free of American military bases as outposts in Washington’s War on Terror and against Humanity. The nation, under IMF and World Bank dictates, has become a poorhouse spending millions on the military.

A demonstration against the presence of Bulgarian troops in Iraq has been called by the Revolutionary Youth Movement Che Guevara for July 29, 2004 in Sofia ( ).

Freedom of thought and expression must be protected, repression publicized, condemned and defeated. Statements of solidarity with Eli, her anti-authoritarian comrades and the Bulgarian masses can be posted in English at: , where these events are chronicled and commented upon.

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