Author`s books
About the authorBooksGeorgi Markov`s casePiccadilly fileThe archives of the SSSContacts
Summary E-mail

Todor Zhivkov did not come to power easily. He struggled persistently to achieve power in the years after the 9th September, 1944, finally reaching the senior echelons of the party – the Central Committee and the Politburo. He did this during the most Stalinist periods of Bulgarian development, as the protégé of Valko Chervenkov, NKVD activist and one of the most loyal to Moscow Bulgarian party activists. At the beginning of the 1950’s Zhivkov had already become Chervenkov’s assistant and was actively involved in party purges and dealing with the so-called “enemies with a party card”, not only in politics but in the cultural sphere. Despite supporting and practicing Stalinist politics, after the denouncement of Stalin by the new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, Zhivkov displayed enviable skill and practicality and was the first of the new leadership of the BCP to realign himself in the direction of the new wind blowing from the Kremlin. Thanks to this quality and his successful moves in attracting new allies in the party, he managed to convince Moscow that he was the man they needed to fight against the cult of personality in Bulgaria and with the blessing of Khrushchev he became party leader.


Hristo Hristov provides an in-depth analysis of the two fundamental aspects to Zhivkov’s political longevity – the relationship with his masters in Moscow and the total subjugation of the State Security Services to his own interest in power, through which he acquired complete control of society, the party and his own leadership. In a separate chapter Hristov examines the policies and methods which he used to win the favour of the three Soviet leaders who were key to his rule – Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and Mihail Gorbachev. Significant attention is also paid to his influence over the Ministry of the Interior. One of the typical features of his unilateral power was that during the entire 35 years of his rule no one else had the right to intervene in the work of the Ministry of the Interior and State Security. This rule applied with equal force to the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, and the successive ministers of the Interior all reported solely and directly to Zhivkov.


The book reveals for the first time the secret mechanism which Zhivkov used to buy the political loyalty of the senior party and state apparatus and created an enormous system of privilege dramatically at odds with propagandized socialist morals. The institution which Zhivkov secretly employed to this end was the omnipotent was the so-called DSS (UBO) “Directorate of Safety and Security” of the State Security Service. The DSS was also directly subordinated to the General Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party, transforming it into a “Praetorian Guard”.

In addition to its primary function of providing his day-to-day security the directorate was also responsible for all the domestic arrangements of the communist elite, to which access was granted only with the personal blessing of Zhivkov himself. The director of the DSS was also responsible for  fulfilling the General Secretary’s instructions to allocate huge sums  of “non-accountable monies” to specially selected members of the senior political caste. These sums for the time were enormous and were derived from contraband trade in goods and arms. The monies were presented to the recipients in cash at private meetings against a signature every years from 1968 onwards, and no taxes or party membership subscriptions were payable for them.