Marxists Internet Archive

Todor Zhivkov


Todor Khristov Zhivkov (Bulgarian: Тодор Христов Живков; 7 September 1911 – 5 August 1998) was a Bulgarian communist statesman who, as General Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party (1951-1989), Prime Minister (1962-1971) and Chairman of the Council of State (1978-1989), served as the de facto leader of the People's Republic of Bulgaria  from 1954 until 1989.  His rule marked a period of political and economic stability for Bulgaria, but also of complete submission of Bulgaria to Soviet directives.

Zhivkov's rule remained effectively unchallenged until the deterioration of east–west relations in the 1980s, when a stagnating economic situation, a worsening international image and growing careerism and corruption in the BCP weakened his position.  In 1984 he initiated 'assimilation' of Bulgaria's Turkish minority, which was fiercely opposed by Bulgarian Turks as an attack on their identity, and widely condemned internationally -even by the Soviet Union.

In 1989, demands for liberalisation escalated and, as in the past, the regime responded with arrests and beatings of critics and dissidents.  Finally, under pressure by senior BCP members due to his refusal to recognize problems and deal with public protests, Zhivkov resigned his posts on 10 November 1989.

Within a month of his ouster, Communist rule in Bulgaria had effectively ended, and within nearly a year the People's Republic of Bulgaria had formally ceased to exist.  Zhivkov himself  was expelled form the Communist Party in December 1989 and placed under house arrest in January 1990 on charges of corruption, abuse of power and inciting ethnic hatred.  He was ultimately acquitted of all charges.

He died in 1998 from bronchial pneumonia.



1948: Bulgarian Youth Helps to Build People's Democracy

1972: "Revolutionary Tribune and Theoretician", in Georgi Dimitrov 90th Birth Anniversary

1974: Modern Bulgaria: Problems and Tasks in Building an Advanced Socialist Society

1985: Peace and Security for the Peoples - The Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: Ten Years After