By Steven Otfinoski
Examines the folk, faith, lifestyle, politics, tradition, background, and geography of Bulgaria, emphasizing its transition from a communist to a unfastened kingdom.
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Extra info for Bulgaria (Nations in Transition)
In 1982 Khrushchev’s successor, Leonid Brezhnev (1906–82) died, and Zhivkov found himself without a patron. Yuri Andropov (1914–84), who replaced Brezhnev, disliked the Bulgarian leader because Zhivkov had not supported him for the position of party leader. Then in 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev (b. 1931) took the reins of power in Moscow. Gorbachev was a new kind of Soviet leader—pragmatic, energetic, and anxious to reform the Communist system in order to save it from itself. He made it clear to Bulgaria that it would have to reform itself as well if it wanted the continued support of its big brother.
A Familiar Pattern The Bulgarian people were impatient for change. After only 100 days in power, the Simeon government was confronted by thousands of protestors who saw little improvement in their lives since his takeover. In the presidential election of December 2001, they expressed their dissatisfaction at the ballot box, electing Socialist Party leader Georgi Purvanov (b. 1957) president over the incumbent Petar Stoyanov, 54 percent to 46 40 ■ BULGARIA percent. The election had the lowest turnout of any election since communism’s fall, signaling a growing apathy among voters.
With the aborted coup behind him and secure in his power, Zhivkov felt confident enough to strike a more statesmanlike pose on the world stage. He established diplomatic relations with West Germany and the United States, visited French president Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970), and improved relations with the Catholic Church in a visit with Pope Paul VI (1897–1978). To prove he was a true Bulgarian, despite his close ties to Russia, Zhivkov championed his country’s cultural heritage. He appointed his daughter Luidmilla head of the state commission on art and culture in 1973.