Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 65

A March 29 statement by Boris Yeltsin in which the Russian president included Bulgaria in an invitation to other CIS states to join the newly formed quadripartite union has touched off a political furor in Sofia. An estimated 10,000 Bulgarians took to the streets yesterday at the urging of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces, which also demanded the resignation of socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Charging that the Socialist party, which is dominated by former Communists, had "sold out" Bulgarian national interests, opposition party leader Ivan Kostov told the rally that "it is obvious to us that during his visit to Moscow last month, the prime minister gave grounds to Yeltsin to make his outrageous statement." Bulgaria’s anti-Communist president, Zhelyu Zhelev, who spoke before the rally, has also intimated that the government leadership is guilty of "national betrayal" and has demanded a public explanation as to why Bulgaria is "being mentioned so often lately as part of Russia’s military and political plans." (UPI, April 1 & 2)

On March 25, Zhelev had described the Russian Duma’s March 15 resolution denouncing the disbandment of the USSR as a threat to the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe and suggested that it would compel Bulgaria to intensify its efforts to join NATO. (See Monitor, March 26) In general, Zhelev and the opposition have backed closer ties with the West, while the socialists, victorious in the 1994 parliamentary elections, have favored restoration of ties with Russia.

It’s Unofficial: Russia’s Democratic Choice Supports Yeltsin.