Bulgarians feel deep dissatisfaction with the current system, that gives them nothing but starvation and national humiliation

Interview of the Spanish left-wing journalist Oscar Díaz with members of the “23 September” Movement.

How was the Movement “September 23” born?

The Movement “September 23” was created from a group young people, who participated in the demonstrations against the bombing of Yugoslavia, which were held in the capital of Bulgaria. They were convinced of the necessity of the existence of a Marxist-Leninist organization in Bulgaria, which would oppose imperialist aggression, capitalism and fight for socialism.

Why September 23?

September 23 is an important date from the Bulgarian history. This is the date of the September Uprising, which broke out in 1923, as a response to the fascist coup that took place on June 9 of that year. This is the first armed anti-fascist uprising in Europe. It is of great importance for the struggle of the Bulgarian people against fascism.

How is communism/socialism seen in Bulgaria? In many countries of the former “Eastern Bloc” communism is prohibited…

Currently, anti-communism is the official ideology in Bulgaria. After the restoration of capitalism in our country in 1989, an ideological rehabilitation of the fascist period in Bulgaria (1923-1944) was carried out. Fascist actors are usually presented as “victims of communism”. The socialist period (1944-1989) is portrayed as entirely negative in the mass media and history textbooks. Nevertheless, many Bulgarians feel nostalgic for the country’s socialist past. The advantages of a socialist society are becoming apparent to more and more people today, when a huge part of the people lives in poverty and deprivation.

How did Bulgaria experience the COVID19 pandemic?

Healthcare in Bulgaria is at a very low level. Every year many people die from treatable diseases. The country is experiencing a demographic crisis and an aging population. This is accompanied by the closing of hospitals in small settlements and the introduction of market mechanisms in the field of health care. Over the last 30 years, health has gradually become a privilege of the rich. When the Covid 19 pandemic occurred in early 2020, none of these processes were interrupted. The bourgeois government in Bulgaria did nothing to improve the health care system, but only reacted to the downfall of the pandemic by introducing insane regulations for the population. Naturally, most Bulgarians reacted with skepticism to the imposed measures and actively boycotted them.

What is the situation with the women’s rights in Bulgaria? Is there female participation in your organization? 

In our organization, there are also women members. After the restoration of capitalism in Bulgaria in 1989 and the restoration of market relations, women workers were once again placed in a situation of serious exploitation. This also affects their political and social activity. However, some of the most striking examples of the labor movement in Bulgaria come from women. In 2019-2022, some of the largest labor demonstrations were those of nurses. Due to the ideological influence of the West and especially the USA, liberal feminist groups also appeared in Bulgaria, which opposed men to women and thus divided the working class (so-called third wave feminism). To this we try to oppose proletarian feminism and the struggle of female workers for decent working conditions and wages.

Who was Vasil Kolarov?

Vasil Kolarov is a Bulgarian communist and revolutionary. Kolarov was one of the founders of the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1919. After the June 9 coup in Bulgaria in 1923, he called the BCP to armed struggle against the regime of Alexander Tsankov. He arrived illegally in Bulgaria at the beginning of August of the same year and, together with Georgi Dimitrov, imposed the decision to start the September Uprising. He is one of the first leaders of the people’s democracy established in Bulgaria after 1944.

Why is one of the shields of Bulgaria a Lion?

The lion has traditionally been a symbol of the Bulgarian state since the Middle Ages. It was later used by the revolutionaries during the national liberation movement against the Ottoman Empire.

Who was Vasil Levski and why is he nicknamed “The Apostle”?

Vasil Levski is the brightest representative of the Bulgarian revolutionary national liberation movement. For Bulgarians, he is known as the “Apostle of Freedom”.He organized the Internal Revolutionary Organization to prepare the revolution and the national liberation of the Bulgarians. He was captured by the Ottoman authorities and hanged in 1873.

On September 22, the independence of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire is celebrated. Why are Russian flags seen next to the Bulgarian ones on this day?

On September 22, Bulgaria celebrates the declaration of independence in 1908. Bulgarian and Russian flags are more likely to be seen together on March 3, when the Treaty of San Stefano was signed, ending the Russo-Ottoman War (1877-1878). This war is liberating for Bulgaria because it leads to the restoration of the Bulgarian state after 5 centuries of Ottoman rule. To this day, many Bulgarians feel sympathy for Russia because of this war and because of the close cultures and language. Therefore, the anti-Russian rhetoric and hysteria, which are observed in most European countries, have much smaller dimensions in Bulgaria.

What is your objective towards Bulgaria and peace in these tense moments with the war in Ukraine?
We believe that the main world agressor and enemy of the international proletariat is American imperialism and NATO. Contrary to popular sentiment, the Bulgarian government is entirely under the control of the US embassy. It follows the doctrine of military assistance to Ukraine. Demonstrations against military aid to Ukraine and against the sending of weapons are regularly held in many Bulgarian cities. The only salvation for Bulgaria lies in breaking with the imperialist structures of NATO, the EU and the IMF.

Why is there sympathy for Russia in Bulgaria and condemnation of NATO?

As already mentioned, most Bulgarians view Russia with sympathy for a number of reasons. Apart from the common Slavic culture and historical traditions, the main reason for the pro-Russian sentiments in Bulgaria is the deep dissatisfaction with the current system. The people feel that under the present colonial system, they can expect nothing but starvation and national humiliation. Therefore, they are looking for alternatives to the current situation. The reason for this is also that many Bulgarians remember the USSR and the socialist way of life, developed industry and social privileges for the working class.

September 23 Movement, Information Department