Thursday, December 16, 2010

The revenge of history

Bulgaria was one of the few east european countries that prosecuted communists after the fall of communism. Todor Zhivkov, the party secretary who had ruled the country more or less as his kingdom was sentenced to seven years in jail, years that he spent in house arrest due to fragile health.

But except for a few spectacular cases like this, the past was left untouched. Maybe convicting Zhivkov even helped to direct public anger away from fellow travellers, and soon more pressing problems emerged when the nation tried to eek out a living within capitalism.

For these reasons or other, Bulgaria was unusually late with opening the files of its former secret service (DS). Not until 2006 where the files opened, and in 2007 a parliamentary commission was appointed to examine them.

This commision, in media referred to as the files commision, has now done its work and released a list of names of people who were cooperating with the DS. Suprising or not, a large number of ambassadors currently working for Bulgarian embassies appear on this list. Among others, the ambassador to Sweden...

The Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov has publicly called for these ambassadors to be replaced. Tough words form a man who has served as a body guard to mr. Zhivkov himself, but he obviously has a point, and the liberal parties agree with him on this.

Borisov as Zhivkov's body guard

The socialists on the other hand, defends the ambassadors, and point at what they have done for Bulgaria's EU and NATO integration. Which is also a valid point, I guess.

Is it right to bring up someone's past twenty years later? If yes - than what room is there for forgiveness and development. If no - then anytthing can be done, as long as no one finds out at the moment. This is a problem that any country with a totalitarian past, not only ex- communist, but also the ex- fascist Portugal and Spain for example, must deal with. I guess that what the files commission's work shows is that the history is something you must deal with. If you try to hide it it will come back with revenge.

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