Article by Richard Morten. 12 December 2016.


The removal of the hammer and sickle from the facade a building in Sofia.

Photograph from Lost In Bulgaria (archive), 1990.

This ruling builds upon existing laws relating to the “criminal nature of the communist regime,” and follows similar developments in countries such as Poland and Ukraine, where processes of de-communization are already in effect.

On 24 November 2016, the Bulgarian parliament passed a new law banning the public display of communist symbols. This ruling builds upon existing laws relating to the “criminal nature of the communist regime,” and follows similar developments in countries such as Poland and Ukraine, where processes of de-communization are already in effect.

The law bans the creation or display of communist symbols. As a result, one Sofia-based travel company offering communism-themed tours has already changed its logo from a red star to a fist, in order to comply. However the law is slightly more vague in how it will impact physical heritage sites that bear such symbols. Communist symbols should be removed from public if possible, the law states, but when that can’t be done they will need to be contextualised with captions or signs that remind visitors of the criminal nature of the regime which built them.

As far as Buzludzha is concerned, the effect of this law is that it becomes more important than ever to promote the memorial house as an important work of architecture, and heritage site, in its own right – more than just a physical symbol of the old regime. The new law also raises questions regarding the ongoing safety of Bulgaria’s other communist-era memorial sites; many of which are already suffering after years of neglect. Following this ruling, some are perhaps going to find it harder than before to hope for any kind of official rehabilitation as heritage sites or memorials.

You can read the new bill of law here, or watch the parliamentary discussion here (both in Bulgarian).