At first sight the Bulgarian refugee hunters look exactly like the Russian “little green men”, who invaded Crimea a couple of years ago, German BILD comments. When “patrolling” in the Strandzha Mountain close to the Bulgarian-Turkish border they are dressed in camouflage clothing, wearing military boots and masks.
“We protect ourselves against the invaders, whom Germany invited,”
said Yuri, one of the men, who take part in the vigilantes’ groups for protection of the national border, as they describe it.
Bulgaria has a 260 km border with Turkey but since only part of it is protected with a fence the traffickers and the refugees can relatively easily cross it. However, these groups of vigilantes are not comprised only of rightist extremists. The rights protection organisations alarm about hundreds of people going on “regular refugee hunts”. Some join the initiative after work, while others – during their days-off.
“To us, this is some kind of sports in the mountains and at the same time we defend our motherland, we protect our families,”
a man called Ivan said, adding that his knife was always in his hand.
The “hunters” work hand in hand with the Bulgarian border police, while when they meet in the mountains they greet each other in a manly manner and discuss the situation.
“The police are on our side but we cannot discuss this,”
another member of the masked gang says. The acts of aggression are welcomed not only by part of the Bulgarian population but also by the police.