Speech by a representative of the “September 23” Movement during a conference of the World Anti-Imperialist Platform in November 2023.
As you well know, after 45 years of socialist development, large-scale changes began in Bulgaria in 1989, expressed in the restoration of private-property market relations, privatization of key branches of the economy and liquidation of large enterprises. The economic outlook for the vast majority of the working class has deteriorated significantly. This was accompanied by the entry of the Western (mainly American) culture of individualism and moral degradation.
Another important consequence of the restoration of capitalism in Bulgaria is the loss of national sovereignty. The country was integrated into the imperialist world system as a raw appendage for natural and human resources. In a little more than 30 years, the population of Bulgaria decreased by almost 1/3 and there are trends for a demographic catastrophe. Many of the most trained cadres, educated during the time of socialism, went to live and work in Western countries. In this way, the developed capitalist countries received hundreds of thousands of trained specialists in a number of fields for free.
Key resources, such as the Bulgarian gold deposits, electricity distribution companies, water supply in large cities, telecommunications operators, etc. fell into the hands of large Western capitalist entities. At the present moment, under the pressure of Brussels, Bulgaria is forced to fulfill the conditions of so-called “green deal” and to close some of its energy capacity related to the production of electricity from coal plants. Such a measure would lead to a further worsening of the economic situation in the country, an energy crisis and further dependence on foreign corporations.
In order to guarantee the security of these consequences of the restoration of capitalism, the exploitation of people and resources and the dependent position of the country, Bulgaria was brought into the imperialist alliances of NATO and the EU. This is also part of the tendency for the expansion of American imperialism to the east and the encirclement of Russia with a military presence and hostile states. We are in a time when our Bulgarian comprador bourgeoisie is trying to deepen this dependence by entering the Eurozone and the Schengen Agreement.
Over the past 34 years, the US embassy has been formed as a major factor in the domestic political life of the country. The ambassador of the United States is the main political figure in Bulgaria. Even the formation of today’s Bulgarian government is a fact mainly thanks to his influence on the leading political parties. In previous years this was done in disguise and attempts were made to deny this impact. Today, the masks are falling and the pressure of the American embassy is being made open and even pro-American politicians admit it.
Another aspect of our country’s strong dependence is the military involvement in imperialism’s plans for aggression and control over Eastern Europe. There are currently 4 American military bases in Bulgaria, located in the eastern part of the country. These are not even NATO bases – an alliance in which Bulgaria has formally voluntarily entered – but purely US bases. They are on Bulgarian territory without payment, and the Bulgarian government does not even have the right to information about what type and quantity of weapons are there.
In the present situation, our Balkan region and these bases are an important part of the military confrontation and the preparation of a full-scale war against Russia. Military exercises by foreign military personnel on our territory are becoming more frequent and the presence of American military personnel is increasing. Accidents also happen. In May 2021, during an exercise, armed US military personnel stormed a private warehouse in the Bulgarian village of Cheshnegirovo, pointed weapons at the workers and effectively took them hostage. The case caused a wide response in the country and dissatisfaction. Then we organized a protest in front of the American embassy demanding the removal of American military bases on Bulgarian territory.
At the moment, one of the main political issues in the country is that of sending military aid to Ukraine. Like all vassal states of the USA, since 2014, the Bulgarian state has taken a firm position in support of the new regime in Kyiv. After February 2022, the sending of military funds to Ukraine began. Weapons production in Bulgaria has tripled since the beginning of Russia’s Special Military Operation, with the main recipient of these items being Ukraine. At the end of September, the Bulgarian parliament voted to send S-300 anti-aircraft systems to the regime in Kiev.
All these trends, however, find increasing disapproval among the people. The worsening economic situation and the lack of prospects created the basis of widespread popular discontent. The undisguised influence of the American embassy on the internal affairs of the country is beginning to be disliked by more and more people. The military aid that Bulgaria sends to Ukraine is extremely unpopular. The ideology of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie for the restoration of capitalism seen as a “transition to democracy” went bankrupt. The government is implementing measures that are strongly disapproved by society.
Every month, marches against NATO and the additional involvement of the country in the conflict in Ukraine are held in major Bulgarian cities. Even among the representatives of the parliamentary parties, critical words can be heard regarding Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and the EU. Over 600,000 signatures were collected requesting a referendum against Bulgaria’s entry into the Eurozone. At the moment, such a referendum has not been scheduled and it is not clear when and if it will take place.
To keep Bulgaria in the sphere of influence of US imperialism, the methods of bourgeois democracy proved to be insufficient. This is the reason why fascist tendencies, censorship and political violence are visible in our country. The authorities are trying to create anti-Russian and anti-communist hysteria. The Municipal Council of Sofia decided to remove the Monument to the Soviet Army from the city center. Even the Russian church came under attack, with it closed and Russian priests expelled. The authorities are trying to break the traditional warm ties between the Bulgarian and Russian peoples. The prohibition of communist ideology and the use of communist symbols is often discussed. The restoration of capitalism in Bulgaria led to the rehabilitation of fascism.
The most striking example of the weakness of the current system in Bulgaria is the activation of neo-Nazi groups, mainly in the capital, Sofia. The main target of their attacks is the Monument to the Soviet Army. In the last 2 years, it has been attacked repeatedly, and the inscription “To the Soviet Army liberator of the grateful Bulgarian people” was destroyed. However, people expressing opposing ideas to those who dominate at the moment also become the object of attack. A number of physical attacks were carried out, including against members of our organization.
This aggravated political situation provides the preconditions for serious popular movements in the near future. The contrast between the actions of the authorities and the wishes of the people is serious. In such a situation, the need for a sufficiently strong and adequate political force to become an exponent and vanguard of the struggle of the Bulgarian people against US imperialism comes to the fore. Such a political force could only be a communist party of the working people in Bulgaria. Building such an organization is a serious challenge in today’s Bulgarian conditions. It goes through the resolution of a number of ideological questions, such as the reasons and circumstances that led to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, the clarification of the issue of imperialism and the defense of Marxism in modern conditions. These are large-scale tasks, for the implementation of which it is extremely important for us to draw on the experience and ideas of our comrades from other countries. Therefore, such events are of significant practical benefit for us. Because only through joint actions of the anti-imperialist and communist forces do we have a chance to bring the struggle to a successful conclusion.