Assessing the Future of the Bulgarian Communist Party
On November 10, 1989, the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, leading figures in the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) forced Todor Zhivkov, Bulgaria’s leader for more than 35 years, to resign. A coalition of opposition groups formed the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) on December 7, to coordinate efforts to “speed up the processes of democratization,” the group asserted in a statement calling for a multiparty system, market economy, independent unions, and a democratic constitution. Three days later, an estimated 50,000 protestors demonstrated in the streets of Sofia to pressure the new communist leadership, headed by Zhivkov’s former foreign minister, Petur Mladenov, for swifter reforms. The next day, Mladenov announced in a televised speech that the constitution would be amended to allow a multiparty system and that free parliamentary elections would be held in the spring. Following another mass protest a few days later, the Bulgarian leadership agreed to initiate roundtable talks with the opposition. The following communication from the American embassy in Sofia to Washington presents an assessment of the developing political situation that artist and dissident BCP Central Committee member Svetlin Rusev gave to visiting US Congressman Tom Lantos.
Sofia Embassy to U.S. Secretary of State, telegram, 28 December 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).