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4 A Pomak Life of Dissent Amidst Cultural Oppression in Communist Bulgaria

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Chapter Summary

The last decade of communist rule in Bulgaria was a turbulent one. Having revived all Pomaks by the mid-1970s with remarkably few consequences, the regime abandoned all caution and moved against the ethnic Turks of Bulgaria a decade later. Unlike the Bulgarian-speaking Muslims who had been recurrently targeted in the past based on nationalistic claims to their Bulgarianness, the Turkish-speaking Muslims were quite culturally distinct and numerous in comparison. Whereas the end of totalitarianism in the country came about in the context of the larger Soviet perestroika (political and economic reformation) and economic collapse across Eastern Europe, dissenters like Ramadan and their human network ultimately spread the news of the vŭzhroditelen protses and other atrocities taking place in Bulgaria. Ramadan Runtov met Iliya Minev, Petŭr Boyadzhiev, and Priest Blagoy Topusliev, three of the most eminent Bulgarian dissenters from the 1980s, in prison and befriended them.

Keywords: Bulgaria; communist rule; Culture; Eastern Europe; Pomaks; Ramadan Runtov



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