However, the period of economic development did not last long. The economic situation in
the Eastern bloc continued to deteriorate in the 1980s. Foreign indebtedness has increased and
the standard of living of citizens has fallen.
Although Bulgarian society did not rebel openly against the authorities, there were only a few
anti-government appearances, the changes in the USSR also translated into the beginning of
the transformation process in Bulgaria.
In 1988, the first semi-legal opposition structures were established - the Human Rights
Protection Committee or the Openness and Reconstruction Support Club (“Glasnost and
perestroika”, Gorbachev's policy). However, the pace of transformations has not been the
same as in Poland.
One of the nails in the coffin for the regime was the repression of the Turkish minority. In
1946 it numbered over 650 000 people (over 9% of the population). This policy intensified in
the 1980s. They were forcibly forced to change their surnames and forenames to Bulgarian
versions, and protests involved the use of weapons against demonstrators. Some Muslim
customs (e.g. ritual washing of corpses) were banned. At the beginning of 1989, further
restrictions were imposed on the Turkish minority: the use of the Turkish language was
banned, and even street music events were banned. As a result of the anti-Turkish policy, the
minority has emigrated on a massive scale: more than 300 000 Bulgarian Turks have left
Bulgaria. This has also caused problems on the international stage and a deterioration in
relations with Turkey. The halting of anti-Turkish activities and laws was one of the main
demands of the anti-communist opposition.
At the turn of October and November 1989 in Sofia an International Ecological Conference
was organized. The presence of Western media, among others, was exploited by opposition
activists, who intensified their activities. Moreover, within the party, opponents of Zhivkov
came to the fore, which resulted in his dismissal from the function of I secretary (he held the
office for 35 years). Petr Mladenov was appointed the successor, initiating the changes in the
country. On 18th November the first demonstrations began that demanded democracy and free
elections. The opposition, realizing that its dispersion was weakening it, merged and
established the Union of Democratic Forces on 7 December 1989.
In January 1990, the Constitution was amended to remove the reference to the party's leading
role. This was an obvious sign of the weakening of the regime, which could no longer count
on the support of the USSR. Anti-Turkish laws have also been abolished. The communists,
aware of the changes taking place in the world, began a dialogue with the opposition. It ended
with an agreement to hold free elections. In April this year, the Communist Party changed its
name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party. It won the elections of 10 June 1990, which highlighted
the weakness of the Bulgarian opposition.
Fortunately for the opposition, recordings leaked into the media in which Petyr Mladenov
suggested using tanks in the fight against the opposition. As a result, he resigned from the
office of president, and was replaced by an opposition activist, Zhelu Zhelev.
In 1991, a new constitution was passed, and in October of this year another election took
place, this time the victories - over 1% - won by the Union of Democratic Forces. A symbolic
fall of communism was the sentencing of Zhivkov to seven years' imprisonment for
misappropriation of public funds in 1992 (he was under house arrest due to his ill health).
Bulgaria has embarked on a path of democratic transition, culminating in its entry into the EU