Country Listing

Bulgaria Table of Contents



Beginning in 1961, Todor Zhivkov skillfully retained control of the Bulgarian government and the BCP. His regime was a period of unprecedented stability, slavish imitation of Soviet policies, and modest economic experimentation.

Zhivkov Takes Control

Zhivkov was able to weather the social unrest of 1962 by finding scapegoats, juggling indicators of economic progress, and receiving help from abroad. In 1961 Khrushchev had once again denounced Stalin, requiring similar action in the loyal Soviet satellites. In October Chervenkov, who had retained considerable party power, was ousted from the Politburo as an unrepentant Stalinist and obstructor of Bulgarian economic progress (see The Chervenkov Era , ch. 4). When Khrushchev visited Bulgaria in 1962, the Soviet leader made clear his preference for Zhivkov over other Bulgarian party leaders. Within months Yugov had lost his party position and Chervenkov was expelled from the party. Thus, in spite of disastrously unrealistic economic experimentation of the sort that contributed to Khrushchev's ouster in 1964, Zhivkov had greatly strengthened his position as party first secretary by the time his Soviet patron had fallen.

In the early 1960s, Zhivkov improved ties with the Bulgarian intelligentsia by liberalizing censorship and curbing the state security forces (see Zhivkov and the Intelligentsia , ch. 4). He also mended relations with the agrarians by granting amnesties to BANU members and appointing the leader of the party as head of state. These measures gave Zhivkov a political base broad enough to survive the fall of Khrushchev, but they did not prevent an army plot against him in 1965. Zhivkov used the plot as a reason to tighten control over the army and move security functions from the Ministry of the Interior to a new Committee of State Security, under his personal control. Several other plots were reported unofficially in the late 1960s, but after 1962 Zhivkov's position as sole leader of Bulgaria went without serious challenge.

Data as of June 1992