Bulgaria holds annual commemoration of victims of communist regime
Ceremonies were held on February 1 in Bulgaria’s Parliament and at memorials in the country to commemorate victims of the communist regime.
Bulgaria came under communist rule after the Soviet invasion at the close of the Second World War, and remained under the regime’s thrall until the events in the country that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall.
On February 1 1945, the “People’s Court” set up by the communist regime sentenced to death the three regents, 67 MPs and high-ranking military officers. The sentences were carried out the same day.
Extra-judicial killings of local officials, police and army officers had preceded the “People’s Court” and the years that followed saw, as conservatively estimated, 30 000 people in Bulgaria killed by the communists, and many thousands held in prisons and forced labour camps.
In the National Assembly on February 1 2023, there were declarations condemning the communist era, and a minute of silence in honour of the victims. MPs for the Bulgarian Socialist Party, lineal successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party, absented themselves.
Democratic Bulgaria MP Lyudmila Ilieva told the House: “Our responsibility to the victims of the communist regime obliges us to defend freedom every day”.
Ilieva said that some of those sentenced to death by the “People’s Court” had been killed before being sentenced.
The court’s verdicts arose not from a sense of justice but from a thirst for revenge, she said.
In a declaration, the GERB-UDF group said: “Although the communist government did not ask the Bulgarian people if they wanted rivers of blood and cruelty, atrocities were committed in their name, comparable only to the dark times of the Middle Ages”.
Attempts to belittle and forget the crimes of the communist regime should be strongly opposed by every Bulgarian, because when it comes to innocent lives, there was room for conflict and ideology, the group said.
In 2011, former presidents Zhelyu Zhelev and Petar Stoyanov proposed that February 1 be declared the day of commemoration for the victims of communism, a proposal that was adopted by the government of the time.
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