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Sofia demonstrations, 1989

Vasil Paraskevov

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Eastern Europe » Bulgaria

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics democracy, human rights, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01381.x


In the late 1980s the Bulgarian dissident movement took on a new form. It had been largely made up of intellectuals who were striving to expand political freedom but were relatively unconcerned with social issues. In 1988–9, however, several new dissident organizations emerged: Ekoglasnost, the independent trade union Podkrepa, the Social Committee for Ecological Protection of Russe, and the Club for Support of Glasnost and Preustroistvo in Bulgaria (the Club). They emphasized problems such as environmental pollution, human rights, and minority rights. Among the most prominent dissidents were Blaga Dimitrova, Zhelyu Zhelev, Radoi Ralin, and Nikolai Vasilev. On October 26, 1989 Ekoglasnost organized a petition against the governmental project to divert the Rila and Mesta rivers to create hydroelectric power. The police suppressed the effort, but a week later Ekoglasnost organized its first mass demonstration. With slogans demanding democracy and a pure environment, protesters delivered a petition with 11,520 signatures to the parliament. Simultaneously, on November 2, the Club held a meeting in the Petar Beron cinema where the audience discussed the weaknesses of the regime and resolved to continue the protests. The resignation of Bulgarian party leader Todor Zhivkov on November 10 invigorated the protesters and prompted action from a number of other organizations. The trade union ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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