Ordinary Bulgarians, No Statesmen Celebrate Centenary of Communist Dictator Zhivkov
Dozens of Bulgarians and some political figures flocked to the town of Pravets to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the September 7, 1911 birth of longtime communist leader of Bulgaria Todor Zhivkov.
The event was honored by no senior Bulgarian statesmen, but Pravets mayor Nikola Nitov, as well as politicians from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, heir to Zhivkov's Bulgarian Communist Party, were present at the celebration.
The occassion was honored by temporary ambassador to Sofia of the Popular Democratic Republic of Korea Choi Yoon Chon, who remembered the warm friendly relations between Bulgaria and North Korea during Zhivkov's times.
Ordinary Bulgarian citizens gathered in Pravets recollected what they saw as the welfare and sense of direction that Bulgarians experienced during Zhivkov's rule, 1954-1989.
The military orchestra of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense had initially accepted to play at the event commemorating the former Bulgarian head of state, but eventually declined after the Ministry learned that the event will not be attended by current leaders of state.
Wednesday's celebrations featured an exhibition of presents given to Zhivkov by world leaders during the times of his rule, displayed in the house where he was born and grew up.
Todor Khristov Zhivkov (September 7, 1911 – August 5, 1998) was a communist politician and leader of the People's Republic of Bulgaria (PRB) from March 4, 1954 until November 10, 1989.
He became First Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) in 1954 and remained on this position for 35 years, until 1989, thus becoming the longest-serving leader of any Eastern Bloc nation.
His rule marked a period of both economic stability and political repressions for Bulgaria, dominated by complete submission of Bulgaria to the Soviet rule, which lasted until the deterioration of East-West relations in the 1980s, when a stagnating economic situation, a worsening international image and growing careerism and corruption in the BCP weakened his positions.
He resigned on November 10, 1989, under pressure by senior BCP members due to his refusal to recognize problems. Only two months later, in January 1990, the People's Republic of Bulgaria and its Communist regime ceased to exist.
Zhivkov remains one of the most controversial figures in Bulgarian history, triggering outrage and hate on one side and veneration and nostalgia on the other. The celebration of his 100th anniversary in Bulgaria has also been marked by controversy and heated debates.
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