Georgi Pashkulev: The anti-Bulgarianism of the Bulgarian Putinists

The blind copying of foreign models threatens Bulgaria with serious internal consequences and isolation on the international scene.

In recent weeks, there have been a series of events that suggest that there is an attempt in Bulgaria to change the vector of the country's development, which may become a reality if a stable government is not formed that will give the Bulgarian citizens a perspective in the next at least 2 years.

The photo of President Rumen Radev naked to the waist, in which he demonstrates excellent physical condition, is very reminiscent of the photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin from a few years ago.

Also, in recent weeks, President Radev has increasingly openly stated positions on international issues, primarily related to Russia's war in Ukraine, that are approaching those of the Kremlin. Using his military experience, in beautifully chosen places - at military exercises or in front of former soldiers - the president scares the Bulgarian society that the conflict may escalate and even the use of nuclear weapons. By playing with the Bulgarian's fears, Radev is accumulating points, which he hopes to capitalize on very soon if it comes to the new seventh early elections in September or October.

To this, we must add Radev's increased foreign policy activity in countries with an open pro-Russian orientation - the visits to Hungary and Montenegro, which he can visit because he is not invited to other normal Western countries.

The blind copying of the "Putin" model by his Bulgarian imitators is quite dangerous because this model is extremely inappropriate for Bulgaria for the reason that our two countries, which are supposedly close to us, actually have quite different histories in the last 300 years. Yes, indeed we were together for 45 years from the September 9, 1944 coup to the November 10, 1989 palace coup, and then we were forced to follow the Soviet model, and after its collapse, perhaps we face some common problems and challenges, but in essence, our differences are much greater.

The main problem facing Russia, and which it has unfortunately failed to solve for more than 120 years, is whether a large multinational empire can build a functioning Western-style democracy, or whether this democratic rule will be weak and will lead to decentralization and the collapse of the multinational state, which is absolutely unacceptable for the Russian elite.

Russia has made two attempts to answer this question, both of which have so far failed. The first is after the First Russian Bourgeois Revolution (1905-1907), when a parliament, a government, and a Constitution were created, an attempt was made to subordinate foreign policy to the parliament and the government, i.e. of the citizens, not of the autocracy, i.e. the ruling feudal lord, headed by the king. This first attempt ended ingloriously with the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent revolutions, the February and Bolshevik Revolutions of 1917, which ended Russia, and for the next 70 years put the solution to this question under wraps. To emerge anew after 1992, when a new Russia emerged after the collapse of the USSR. But this Russia of Yeltsin, which existed from 1992 to December 31, 1999, also fails to give a real answer to the question of whether democratic rule is possible in Russia without disintegration, - or rather, it gives it, but in the opposite direction, - that it is not possible. Then, in 1998, the need for a strong hand appeared in Russian society, its supporters were both politicians from the left and the right, including those who today are perceived as liberals and even opponents of Putin, such as the late Boris Nemtsov.

Putin's emergence on the political scene and his course of reforms, which is linked to the strong involvement of the state in economic processes, seemed quite incomprehensible in a world that was moving towards liberalization and privatization. But all this has its Russian explanation in the context of a 300-year history of modernization and Westernization, which began with the reforms of Peter the Great and continues with varying intensity to this day. Generally speaking, Russia was a latecomer on the path of capitalism, which started only with the implementation of the Great Reforms of Alexander II, and above all with the abolition of serfdom in 1861, for which this conservative ruler will remain in history as the "Tsar Liberator". This delay and the lack of a strong bourgeoisie, which could create a strong national industry, will lead to the active participation of the state in economic processes. The outbreak of the First World War intensified these processes even more, and when the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, the state sector was so large that the subsequent nationalization in Russia went much more easily and smoothly, unlike, for example, Bulgaria after 1944-1946, when nationalization took place. 

This is proof of the different paths that Russia and Bulgaria have in the economic sphere, and in general in public relations. These differences are immediately apparent when we compare Russian history with that of renaissance and post-liberation Bulgaria.

After November 10, 1989, Bulgaria tried very slowly and with great difficulty to return to the path from which it was forcibly diverted on September 9, 1944.

Putin's Russia is also trying to return to some of the governance models characteristic of the late Romanov empire (1861-1917). Under Putin, we have strong state intervention in the economy to preserve Russia's status as a great power after the collapse of the USSR, just as under Alexander II, where we have strong state involvement in the economy to restore Russia's "great power status" after the Crimean catastrophe ( 1853-1856).

This short and rather sketchy look at Russian history aims to outline some basic features of "Putinism" as a system, so that it becomes clear why such things happen in Russia, and why they should not and should not. are happening in Bulgaria.

Unfortunately, the reality in our country is different. Bulgarian Putinists have existed in our country for a long time, who copy the external authoritarian features of this regime and have nothing to do with it in essence, and there is no way they have, because Bulgaria had a different historical development than Russia, despite the enormous influence that this great country exerts on us from the Renaissance to today.

If these native followers of Putin take power, and this may become a reality, if the 50th National Assembly does not produce a stable cabinet with a medium-term horizon of action of at least 2 years, during which to reassure the public and implement the measures foreseen under the Recovery Plan and sustainability, Bulgaria risks falling into a rather unpleasant situation, ranking next to undemocratic countries such as Hungary and Serbia, where Putin's followers also rule. But unlike them, who also have their national program, according to their understanding, we will find ourselves in the same rut as countries with an open anti-Bulgarian policy.

If we take the side of Russia, towards which the Bulgarian Putinists, led by Radev, are pushing us, it means bowing down to Serbia and its ambitions for a "Serbian world" - a project that is directly directed against Bulgaria and Europe. Our gratitude to Russia should not cloud us to such an extent that we sacrifice the national interest and the well-being of Bulgarian citizens, which can only be guaranteed as part of the European Union and NATO. | BGNES


Georgi Pashkulev, editor-in-chief of BGNES.