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ECHR Rules Bulgarian Courts Wrong Not To Penalize Far-Right Nationalist Lawmaker

Bulgarian ulranationalist Volen Siderov has been accused of making incendiary statements, such as claiming that the mass murder of Jews by Nazis was a "great deception." (file photo)

SOFIA -- The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Bulgaria's courts had wrongly dismissed two discrimination cases brought against far-right nationalist lawmaker Volen Siderov.

The February 16 ruling by the Strasbourg court was the latest to scrutinize the rhetoric of Siderov, whose pro-Russian party, Attack, has been a controversial presence in Bulgarian politics.

The court agreed with plaintiffs in two separate cases -- one brought by two Bulgarian Jews; the other by two Bulgarian Roma – who charged that Siderov's rhetoric violated their rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.

Some of the more incendiary statements cited by the plaintiffs included claiming that the mass murder of Jews by Nazis during World War II was a "great deception" and a speech Siderov gave in July 2005 when he said "Bulgaria above all, Bulgaria for the Bulgarians!"

Bulgarian courts have dismissed past lawsuits against him, citing, among other things, Siderov's right to free speech.

Until 2019, Siderov’s party was part of the United Patriots alliance, a partner in Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's government. The party has traditionally defended positions in support of Russia and against the European Union and NATO.

Since then, Siderov has been a municipal lawmaker in the capital, Sofia.

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