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The Ministry of Internal Affairs


Troops disembarking from armored personnel carrier During military exercises in Khaskovo District, 1985
Courtesy Sofia Press Agency


Military personnel used in crowd control during Union of Democratic Forces rally, Sofia 1990
Courtesy Charles Sudetic

Under Zhivkov the Ministry of Internal Affairs had been charged with all aspects of internal and external security in peacetime. Given this assignment, the forces under the ministry had vast jurisdiction over society and were a feared and hated part of the communist government. For that reason, reorganization of internal security and intelligence operations was one of the first goals of the post-Zhivkov regimes. The overthrow of Zhivkov revealed the activities of Department Six, the "thought police" division of State Security under the totalitarian regime in charge of monitoring the activity of dissidents. Liquidation of that department was announced within a month of Zhivkov's ouster; it also was blamed for the assaults on demonstrators that had received world publicity at the time of the ecological conference in Sofia (see The Ferment of 1988-90 , ch. 4). The UDF and other political organizations called for a complete review of past investigations to identify violations of civil rights by the ministry, review accusations of physical abuse during detention, improve prison conditions, and overturn sentences applied after improper investigation. The remaining prestige of the ministry was demonstrated in December 1990, however, when it and the defense ministry were the posts most hotly contested between the BSP and the UDF in formation of the first multiparty cabinet. At that time, a civilian became head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the first time since 1944.

Data as of June 1992