KS kultura sjećanja / remembrance culture

#reshaping1989 "It's best for the tanks to come"

Oct. 4, 2021

On December 14, 1989, thousands of Bulgarians organized a live chain around the Parliament. This was the first time the Parliament convened since Petar Mladenov of the Bulgarian Communist Party replaced longtime communist leader Todor Zhivkov on November 10.

The citizens insisted on immediate change of article 1 of the Constitution, which regulated the leading role of the Communist party. A promise from within the Parliament that the article will be changed within 30 days did not calm the crowds outside. The new head of state Petar Mladenov came out of the Parliament to speak with the people but they greeted him with chants "Resign!" and "Down with Article 1!". This greatly irritated Mladenov, who addressed the Minister of Defense with the words "It is best for the tanks to come".

This sentence was filmed but not broadcast, as the state TV channel was under communist control. The recording was broadcast only 6 months later, between the first and second round of the first democratic elections in Bulgaria. Immediately after the broadcast, Petar Mladenov announced that the footage had been edited. An investigation was opened. Protesting citizens formed the „City of Truth" . In their tents people protested without interruption demanding the resignation of Petar Mladenov and a public trial for Todor Zhivkov.

The examination of the record concluded that the footage was authentic. 32 members of the commission formed on the case agreed that what Mladenov said was indeed "It is best for the tanks to come." Petar Mladenov was forced to resign and this was the end of his political career.

That is how December 14, 1989 paved the way for the democratic future of Bulgaria.

photo: BTA, Bulgaria

The project is co-financed by the European Union through the program “Europe for Citizens”.

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