Bulgaria: Citizens and Officials Commemorated Victims of Communist Era Amidst Parliamentary Divisions

Politics | February 1, 2024, Thursday // 15:00
Bulgaria: Bulgaria: Citizens and Officials Commemorated Victims of Communist Era Amidst Parliamentary Divisions Mayor of Sofia Vasil Terziev, Photo: Irina Krassimirova

Bulgaria observed February 1 as the Day of Homage to the Victims of the Communist Regime, a poignant reminder of the dark historical chapter that unfolded in the aftermath of World War II. Instituted in 2011 through the initiative of former Presidents Zhelyu Zhelev and Petar Stoyanov, the day commemorates the execution of three regents, 22 ministers, royal advisers, Members of Parliament, and military officers on February 1, 1945, by the People's Court. Read more about it here.

The Bulgarian Parliament solemnly held a moment of silence to honor the victims, but the proceedings were marked by divisions. Some Members of Parliament, particularly those of the pro-Russian party "Vazrazhdane", chose not to stand, leading to accusations of manipulating historical truth and sparking recriminations within the legislative body.

Parliament's Deputy Chair Nikola Minchev, representing We Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (WCC-DB), read a poignant declaration, emphasizing the imperative to preserve historical memory. The statement underscored the unique and politically motivated nature of the People's Court, a judicial entity that handed down an unprecedented number of sentences. Intriguingly, even those who had played a pivotal role in rescuing Bulgarian Jews during World War II found themselves convicted, underscoring the court's inherent bias.

In a declaration, GERB-SDS condemned ongoing attempts to falsify history and critiqued the Bulgarian Communist Party for its lack of remorse or apology for the atrocities committed during the communist regime. Rumen Hristov, leader of Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), underscored the disgraceful nature of such attempts within an EU member state that has embraced democratic values.

"Vazrazhdane" leader Kostadin Kostadinov introduced a different perspective, advocating for a national day of reconciliation that would encompass all victims of regimes before and after the 1944 communist takeover. He questioned the commemoration of individuals associated with heinous acts, presenting graphic photos and emphasizing the need to acknowledge victims on both sides of the complex historical narrative.

These parliamentary exchanges reflect the ongoing struggle in Bulgaria to reconcile with its multifaceted past. February 1 serves as a symbolic day of reflection, prompting the nation to confront its history, acknowledge the complexities of its past, and work towards collective healing. Public tributes at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Sofia, attended by dignitaries and the public alike, further underscored the importance of remembering and learning from history.

Members of the public gathered to offer floral tributes at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in downtown Sofia. Among those paying homage were Sofia Mayor Vasil Terziev, Parliament Chairperson Rosen Zhelyazkov, former President Rosen Plevneliev (2012-2017), MPs, and Ukraine's Ambassador in Sofia, Olesya Ilashchuk. The attendees included victims of communist repressions.

Zhelyazkov expressed, "Today, we honor the victims of communism while also reflecting on the dark period in Bulgarian history, which began almost a century ago and endured the red terror immediately after September 1944." According to him, this era left an indelible mark on the lives of numerous Bulgarians who not only were deprived of the right to shape their own history but also had their present reshaped and their future restricted. He highlighted "tentative efforts to revive communism" and emphasized the importance of not forgetting the victims and their history.

Similar commemorative events took place in various Bulgarian cities and towns.

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Tags: Bulgaria, Day of Remembrance, communist, parliament

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