Bozhidar Dimitrov has resigned as head of Bulgaria’s National History Museum, to go on retirement, the Ministry of Culture said on September 29.
The ministry said that Dimitrov had applied to leave the post as of November 1 2017 because he had reached pensionable age.
Dimitrov was first appointed to the post in December 1994, but was dismissed four years later after getting into a dispute with then-president Petar Stoyanov about the return to Zografski Monastery of the manuscript of Paisii Hilendarski’s history of Bulgaria. Dimitrov was re-appointed in 2001.
He was the subject of an online petition in 2015 calling for his retirement. The petition attracted more than 2500 signatures.
The online petition was started by Sofia University professor of cultural anthropology Ivailo Dichev, who said that Dimitrov had offended the scientific community with his unproven assertions and fables, insulted national feelings with his mercenary attitude towards heritage, and Dichev added as an objection the “plastic dummy” for tourists that Dimitrov was responsible for adding at an archaeological site, supposedly representing an ancient sculpture.
Dimitrov was a minister in the first government of Boiko Borissov, in charge of Bulgarians abroad. In June 2009, the Dossier Commission – the body charged by law with identifying former communist-era State Security agents in various areas of public life – said that Dimitrov had been an agent. His code names, variously, were Bogdan, Kardam, Tervel, and Telerig.
Dimitrov resigned from the Borissov cabinet in February 2011 amid controversy about his affiliation to State Security.
From 2002 to 2012, Dimitrov hosted a programme on Bulgarian history on public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television.
Among the numerous occasions that Dimitrov has received prominent media coverage was the July 2010 episode when remains were found on an island off the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Sozopol, which were claimed to be relics of John the Baptist. Dimitrov, who was instrumental in the bone fragments being displayed in a church in the town, said that Sozopol – his birthplace – would become a “second Jerusalem” because of the relics.