A nationalist Bulgarian MEP who appeared to give the Nazi salute in the European Parliament was fined over €2,000 on Tuesday, but said he would appeal the decision.
Angel Dzhambazki of the Group of European Conservatives and Reformists appeared to make the gesture back in February after taking part in a debate on an EU court ruling that said the European Commission can cut funding for countries that break the rule of law violated
At the time, he slammed the court decision, arguing that it was more about “hatred of nation states,” and praised the Bulgarian, Polish and Hungarian leaders, who were under scrutiny over rule of law issues. Then, as he was about to leave the chamber, he turned to the chair and stretched his arm straight and stiff toward the chair.
Dzhambazki denied that the gesture caught by the camera was a Nazi salute and said he was waving goodbye.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola announced during a plenary session on Tuesday that Dzhambazki would pay a fine equal to six days of his daily allowance for the incident, or €2,028, based on the standard flat rate for MPs.
A Metsola spokeswoman told POLITICO in a statement that she decided to impose the penalty on Dzhambazki “because of his inappropriate behavior… when he stretched out his right arm in a gesture that was perceived as a Nazi salute.”
“This has damaged the dignity and reputation of the European Parliament,” said the spokesman, adding that Dzhambazki was informed of the decision last Thursday.
Dzhambazki on Tuesday called the incident “a storm in a teacup” and branded Metsola’s decision as “nonsensical”. He told POLITICO that he would take “further legal steps” to challenge the fine “before the competent institutions” and was currently examining his legal options.
“I am punished for how my actions might hypothetically be perceived by others. This is absurd at best,” Dzhambazki said in a statement. “I categorically refuse to admit my guilt in this so-called incident.”