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Petar Mladenov

(1936—2000)


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(b. Toshveti, Bulgaria, 22 Aug. 1936; d. Sofia, 31 May 2000)

Bulgarian; Foreign Minister 1962–89, leader 1989–90 Mladenov was Bulgaria's long-standing Foreign Minister. He was disgusted by the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) leader Zhivkov's forced Bulgarianization of the Turkish minority in summer 1989. Mladenov first rallied anti-Zhivkov members in the party, then secured Soviet consent for Zhivkov's removal. On 10 November, he removed Zhivkov from office during a session of the central committee, and became leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party and President. He averted revolution by introducing political pluralism and promising free elections.

In 1990 Mladenov was faced with two main tasks: to secure the victory of reformers within the party; and to enable it to win free elections. The reform process began at the BCP's ‘Congress of Renewal’ at the end of January 1990. In February he announced that he could not be both head of state and leader of the party and was replaced as BCP First Secretary by Aleksandur Lilov, a reformist. Despite the change of faces at the top, Zhivkov's old supporters retained considerable power in the country. In June 1990, the reformed party won free elections, gaining a narrow majority in parliament. Mladenov resigned as President in June 1990 after a videotape was released which showed him proposing the use of tanks against a demonstration in 1989.

Subjects: Politics.


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