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Bulgaria Table of Contents


Zhivkov and the Intelligentsia

Until the late 1980s, Zhivkov successfully prevented unrest in the Bulgarian intellectual community. Membership in the writers' union brought enormous privilege and social stature, and that drew many dissident writers such as Georgi Dzhagarov and Liubomir Levchev into the circle of the officially approved intelligentsia. On the other hand, entry required intellectual compromise, and refusal to compromise led to dismissal from the union and loss of all privileges. The punishment of dissident writers sometimes went far beyond loss of privileges. In 1978 émigré writer Georgi Markov was murdered in London for his anticommunist broadcasts for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Blaga Dimitrova was harshly denounced for her critical portrayal of party officials in her 1982 novel Litse.

Zhivkov also softened organized opposition by restoring symbols of the Bulgarian cultural past that had been cast aside in the postwar campaign to consolidate Soviet-style party control. Beginning in 1967, he appealed loudly to the people to remember "our motherland Bulgaria." In the late 1970s, Zhivkov mended relations with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and in 1981 Liudmila Zhivkova's national celebration of Bulgaria's 1,300th anniversary raised patriotic feeling. Zhivkov's extensive campaign of cultural restoration provided at least some common ground between him and the Bulgarian intelligentsia.

Data as of June 1992