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XENOPHOBIA, HATE CRIME AND RADICALISATION IN BULGARIA,  2020-2022 Pranvera Tika, Ph.D. Panteion University of Social and Political Studies (Athens)

Bulgaria has been plagued by political gridlock since 2020 when the Southeast European country of nearly 7 million people was rocked by nationwide protests, as public anger over years of corruption boiled over. Much of the ire was directed at longtime leader Boyko Borisov and his center-right Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party. Bulgaria seem more divided than ever, after no event or situation managed to bridge the gap between them over the past two years.

Druing this time, the lengthy political crisis in the country has made it even harder for the two groups to understand those who differ from them or even attempt to find common ground. Most importantly, the year crisis has strengthened the pro-Russian voices and the extreme right party, ‘’Revival’’ as a vivid clash of traditional versus liberal stances in Bulgaria. The repertoire of extreme right mobilization and incidents remain similar with the traditional motives, an anti-Roma sentiment that characterizes in a top down way the pattern of incidents, law enforcement authorities that lack the standards of a democratic culture. Also, a diffused anti-LGBTQI stance remain a central motive for the mobilization of far right formations and anti-democratic sentiment of specific categories of population.

As the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance stated in 2009, in Bulgaria, the legal and institutional framework against racism and discrimination has been strengthened and initiatives have been taken to improve the situation of Roma and of refugees. However, anti-racism or anti-discrimination legal provisions are rarely applied, the situation of Roma and asylum seekers remains worrying, the public’s awareness of problems of racism and intolerance still needs to be raised, and the response of the justice system to racist publications and to allegations of racist or discriminatory behavior on the part of the police should be improved. Since then the situation has not improved substantially.

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