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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Nikola Petkov

Nikola Petkov (July 8, 1893 – September 23, 1947) was a Bulgarian politician and the leader of the anti-communist democratic opposition in Bulgaria (1945-1947). A scion of one of the country’s most famous political families – both his father and his brother were actively involved in politics and were assassinated by partisan opponents – Petkov studied law in the Sorbonne and subsequently became a journalist. In the 1930s he joined the largest political party in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU). During the Second World War he took the position that Bulgaria should abandon its alliance with Germany and turn towards Britain and the United States. For these activities he was repeatedly detained and exiled. In 1943-44 Petkov was involved in the formation of the Fatherland Front, an umbrella coalition that united all anti-fascist forces in the country, including BANU and the BCP. After the coup of September 9, 1944, when the Fatherland Front took power, Petkov was appointed a minister without portfolio in a cabinet dominated by the BCP.

Unable to prevent the communist’s ruthless march towards absolute power, Petkov resigned from the government in 1945. Subsequently he led BANU out of the Fatherland Front and established it as the main opposition party in Bulgaria. The efforts of the democratic opposition to preserve parliamentary democracy were denounced as “counter-revolutionary” by the BSP, and opposition activists were subjected to violent repressions. Despite all the threats and intimidations, Petkov ran on the BANU’s party list in the 1946 elections and won a parliamentary seat. On June 5, 1947, however, he was stripped of his immunity and was arrested by communist policemen in the parliamentary building. Based on trumped-up charges of high treason, he was sentenced to death and hanged on September 23, 1947.

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Location:  Eastern Europe
Capital:  Sofia
Communist Rule:  1944-1990
Status:  First free elections (June 1990)
Victims of Communism:
222 000