Today Volen Siderov will lead a rally in Sofia to protest the planned creation of US military bases in Bulgaria. So it is a good day to write a post about this unpleasant man.
I have no information about the pre-1989 biography of Volen Siderov, except what the paper Starshel wrote - that he was a photographer working for the militia (i.e. the communist police) in the town of Vratza. So nobody seems to know why after 1989 Siderov was appointed as an editor of the anticommunist newspaper Demokratsia ("Democracy") and later became Editor-in-chief.
Later Siderov was fired from the paper (which, by the way, exists no more) and stopped pretending to be a democrat. He started a show called Ataka ("Attack") on the cable channel Scat TV. I have had an occasional glance of his show. It is based on primitive hate of The Others - the Jews, the Gypsies, the Turks, the Americans and so on - blaming all Bulgaria's problems on them. Of course there is plenty of nationalistic talk, waiving the Bulgarian flag etc. (Unlike some other countries, e.g. USA, in Bulgaria good people don't have the habit to waive the national flag and show their patriotic feelings in public.)
During last year's election campaign, Siderov suddenly formed a political party naming it Ataka after his show. Its program followed the same pseudo-patriotic and hate-mongering pattern. In his public appearances, Siderov showed much similarity to Hitler, most likely due to careful watching of Hitler's videotapes and deliberate imitation. He used very efficiently the murder of a Bulgarian professor by Gypsies (mentioned in my previous post). His party organized rallies in the district where the murder occurred and elsewhere and promised law and order to the Bulgarians.
Days before the elections, my friend traveled in a taxi. The driver said he would vote for Ataka because he was fed up with the Gypsies. My friend asked, "If Ataka wins, do you imagine they will make the Gypsies disappear?" After some thinking, the driver replied, "You are right." But few were asking questions, and Ataka emerged after the elections as the No. 4 political force, performing better than any of the anticommunist parties. Some commentators, trying to exonerate the pro-Ataka voters, said this was a legitimate protest vote. But Starshel again offered the best comment. It was titled The headless voter (reminiscent to Mayne Reid's novel The Headless Horseman) and said that voters deserve much blame when they voluntarily choose to be headless people instead of citizens.
In the Parliament, Ataka continued with the hate talk and nothing else. However, several weeks ago an incident made headlines. I'll copy some text from the blog An Englishman in Bulgaria (http://bulgarbrit.blogspot.com/):
"It all started when the glorious fuhrer, Volen Siderov, was involved in a minor car crash. He was quick to make the most of it, claiming that it was a failed assassination attempt. However, after some police investigation a more plausible story emerged. Pavel Chernev, the Ataka deputy leader, was travelling with Siderov when their car hit another. Chernev got out of the vehicle and proceeded to beat up the driver of the other vehicle. This was the story until Chernev changed it - claiming that Siderov persuaded him to take the blame when it was really Siderov's driver that carried out the assault. Siderov apparently wanted to protect the driver, who was already on probation for other crimes. Chernev was allegedly paid to be the fall guy, according to nationalist MP Mitko Dimitrov. "Chernev had no money at the end of last week, but now he seems to be quite rich," he told reporters. I don't know why Chernev changed his story, but Volen Siderov is still sticking to his claim that it is all a vast conspiracy to discredit him and his party. Personally, I think he is doing a good job of this himself. "
I wish to add that the driver of the other car was a student taking his 84-year old sick grandfather to the hospital. Siderov's companion not only beat the student and reportedly the old man too, but perforated the tires of their car to prevent their eventual "escape". The boy was studying in Britain and, being out of touch with Bulgarian political life, was quite shocked. He thought he was in the hands of bandits or possibly roque cops, who in Bulgaria are sometimes difficult to distinguish from bandits.
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that we become what we pretend to be and therefore we must be careful what we pretend to be. Siderov imitated the madman Hitler so keenly that started to behave like a madman himself. I hope this story will bring about his political demise, but one should not be too optimistic about the Bulgarian reality - here almost everything is possible.