New Sources on Bulgarian Intelligence

Christopher Nehring

Bulgaria and Bulgarian intelligence is sort of a blank spot on the map of European intelligence services. Broadly (but not always rightfully) associated with the crimes of Cold War Socialist state security, knowledge about Bulgarian intelligence is often confined to the murderer of dissident Georgi Markov or an alleged (but not probable) involvement in the assault on Pope John Paul II. Concerning the period after the breakdown of Communism even less is known about Bulgarian intelligence services and their work. However, the establishment of the “Committee for disclosing the documents and announcing affiliation of Bulgarian citizens to the State Security and the intelligence services of the Bulgarian National Army” (COMDOS) during the process of Bulgaria’s joining the European Union was some sort of a “game changer”. After a prolonged period of total closure, empirical data and insight into the Communist security apparatus and its afterlife after 1990 was made publicly accessible. 

My proposed talk deals with the history of the archives of Bulgarian intelligence, access to these archives and the various state commission that were or still are in charge of granting access to these archival materials. This presentation aims to draw upon the history and the work of COMDOS to analyze the legacy of the hated and feared Communist state security and the transition to current intelligence services. In doing so, the questions of how the old state security was remodeled, what happened to its old and new staff and most importantly how the process of opening and disclosing state security archives interconnected with current intelligence services are tackled. This analysis also benefits from my time at COMDOS as EU-research intern in 2011/2012 and the research during my PhD-work. 

Download abstract here


Tina Andersen