Country Listing

Bulgaria Table of Contents


Police Organizations

The Ministry of Internal Affairs controlled the People's Militia (police) and the special militarized Internal Security Troops known as Red Berets. In response to public demands for reform, a new Independent Trade Union Organization of Militia Employees set forth reforms to improve the organization's public relations, which remained very poor in 1990. Declaring that membership in a party was incompatible with nonpartisan law enforcement, the union called for the depoliticization and professionalization of the militia through training programs, legal definition of its authority, and visible separation from influence by the BSP, with which the public still linked the militia. The force also sought to change its name from "militia" to "police." The Commission on National Security of the National Assembly supported this proposal, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs itself drafted a new law on the People's Militia for consideration by the National Assembly.

The People's Militia controlled several subordinate organizations including the Territorial Militia, Road Militia, Commercial Militia, Central Investigations Department, Training Department, and Administration Department. The Territorial Militia provided law enforcement at the local level. Directorates for the Territorial Militia in each province of the country reported to the People's Militia at the national level. The Road Militia acted as a traffic enforcement authority similar to a highway patrol or state police force. The Commercial Militia investigated economic crimes, fraud, and thefts. The Training Department supervised the training of personnel for the People's Militia. It operated a special secondary school to train sergeants and a national academy to train officers. Candidates studied law codes, criminology, criminal procedure, and foreign languages.

The Internal Security Troops, familiarly known as the Red Berets, were also part of the Ministry for Internal Security. They were a militarized, light infantry force responsible for preventing riots and other civil disturbances. Their 15,000 personnel were organized into fifteen regiments; they operated over 100 BTR-60 armored personnel carriers equipped for riot control. Together with the People's Militia and the secret police, the Red Berets were involved in the infamous Bulgarization campaign during 1984 and 1985 (see Bulgaria in the 1980s , ch. 1; The Turkish Problem , ch. 4). They were deployed in November 1990 to maintain order in Sofia during the general strike that toppled the BSP government.

Data as of June 1992