Volen Siderov: A Champion of Pro-Russian Nationalism in Bulgaria

Volen Nikolov Siderov is a Bulgarian far-right politician. He is the leader of the nationalist party Attack (Ataka). He has been the editor of multiple newspapers and has written five books. The attack’s rhetoric is pro-Russian and xenophobic, plainly attacking Bulgaria’s relations with its transatlantic partners while fostering close ties with Russia. Volen Siderov played a key role, in defending Russia in many of his public statements. 

The ultranationalist, pro-Russian Ataka party has most notably propagated, since its creation in 2005, a trajectory that embraces Moscow—even recommending Bulgarians to remember that “it is Mother Russia that liberated us.

At one point, Ataka was the fourth-largest group in Parliament, and its electoral support peaked in the 2007 EU Parliament elections when it took 14.2% of the vote. However, the party has failed ground electorally in recent years. Siderov’s pro-Russian understanding of the war in Ukraine has not earned much attention. Siderov also communicated respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin, by visiting him on foot for his 60th birthday on 7 October 2012. 

Back in 2014, Ataka’s leader Volen Siderov moved as far as to form the party’s European election campaign in Moscow, while blaming the United States for instigating a “third world war via which Russia should be brought to its knees.” This was right after Siderov was granted the “Star of the Fatherland” in Moscow for his donation to boosting bilateral relations. Since 2014, however, Ataka’s national polling has dropped from 4.5 percent in 2014 to around 1 percent in 2017. Ataka did organise to secure a coalition agreement in Borisov’s third government that year, as part of the United Patriots minority supporter in government. 

In 2018 when the Bulgarian government was planning to Expel Russian Diplomats, “I categorically think these (calls for Bulgaria to expel Russian diplomats) are a blunder,” said Volen Siderov. “We have one unclear case. We have no evidence of Russia’s participation,” he stated in a statement. In 2015, a delegation from the Ataka party visited Crimea and confirmed both Russian and Russian-installed Crimean officials of their party’s recognition and approval for Crimea “as part of the Russian Federation”

According to the Crimean parliament’s press service, Volen Siderov, one of the representatives present and founder of the Ataka Party “was the only Bulgarian politician after the state coup in Kyiv who provided an objective assessment of what had happened.”   Since his party was invited to attend the Crimean ‘referendum’ less than a month later, one thinks that this ‘assessment’ was on a par with that of Russian President Vladimir Putin who declared that ‘fascist and anti-Semitic’ hordes had grabbed power in Kyiv.  Siderov was also declared to have threatened to withdraw his party’s support from Bulgaria’s alliance government if it backed further sanctions against Russia.

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