The growing Russophilia of post-communist Bulgarian nationalism: between entanglements and paradoxes

La creciente rusofilia del nacionalismo búlgaro poscomunista: entre enredos y paradojas


  • Evlogi Stanchev Institute of Balkan Studies and Center of Thracology


Palabras clave:

Bulgaria, nationalism, populism, Russophilia, post-communism, transition to democracy


The essay examines the various manifestations of Russian influence on present-day Bulgarian nationalism. Although this phenomenon dates back to the early days of Bulgarian nationalist thought in the 19th century, it gained particular prominence in recent years, especially in the context of Russian hybrid warfare. After outlining the political landscape of Bulgarian nationalism in the post-communist period, the article offers an in-depth analysis of the dominant pro-Russian narratives that are vociferously reproduced by the country’s major nationalist actors. While some of these messages have been firmly adapted in the collective memory of generations of Bulgarians due to various historical reasons (e.g., the narrative of the “Russian liberators”), others are a direct product of today’s Kremlin propaganda (the notions of the alleged “decadence” of the West). Furthermore, the growing divisions within Bulgarian society that took shape against the background of this prolonged Russian influence have also been thoroughly addressed. The paper argues that Kremlin-backed actors are trying to monopolize and privatize the patriotic discourse in Bulgaria, thereby disrupting the country’s pro-Western orientation.


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


Cargando métricas ...


Academic literature:

Baeva 2019: I. Baeva, “The old and new Russophobia in Bulgaria – similarities and differences” [in V. Prodanov et al., eds., Russophobia, Sofia, 2019, pp. 213–225]. [in Bulgarian]

Billig 1995: M. Billig, Banal Nationalism (London, 1995).

Calhoun 1997: C. Calhoun, Nationalism (Minneapolis, 1997).

Cholakov 2021: P. Cholakov, “Bulgaria and the Ukrainian crisis: National interests and political institutions” in Sociološki pregled / Sociological Review, Vol. LV, Nо. 1 (2021), pp. 56–76.

Copp 1992: D. Copp, “The Concept of a Society” in Dialogue, Vol. 31, No. 2 (1992), pp. 183–212.

Derzhavin 1945: N. Derzhavin, Tribal and cultural ties between the Bulgarian and Russian peoples (Sofia 1945). [in Bulgarian]

Elenkov 2018: I. Elenkov, Orbits of the socialist everyday life (Sofia, 2018). [in Bulgarian]

Ghodsee 2008: K. Ghodsee, “Left Wing, Right Wing, Everything: Xenophobia, Neo-totalitarianism, and Populist Politics in Bulgaria” in Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 55, No. 3 (2008), pp. 26–39.

Gruev and Kalionski 2008: M. Gruev, Al. Kalionski, The “Revival Process”: Muslim Communities and the Communist Regime (Sofia, 2008). [in Bulgarian]

Koleva 2022: D. Koleva, “The Immortal Regiment and its glocalisation: Reformatting Victory Day in Bulgaria” in Memory Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2022), pp. 216–229.

Kurtev 1985: N. Kurtev, The socialist patriotism of the Bulgarian people (Sofia, 1985). [in Bulgarian]

Nora 1996: P. Nora, “General Introduction: Between Memory and History” [in Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, Vol. 1 – Conflicts and Divisions / under the direction of Pierre Nora, New York and Chichester, 1996, pp. 1–20].

Pashova et al. 2013: A. Pashova et al., “‘Battles in the Past’ or ‘Battles for the Past’: Bulgarian National Models of Memory and Memory Policy” in Balkanistic Forum, 1 (2013), pp. 34–55.

Ragaru 2001: N. Ragaru, “Islam in Post-Communist Bulgaria. An Aborted “Crash of Civilization?” in Nationalities Papers, Vol. 29, No. 2 (2001), pp. 293–324.

Rechel 2007: B. Rechel, “The “Bulgarian Ethnic Model” – Reality or Ideology?” in Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 59, No. 7 (2007), pp. 1201–1215.

Rikev 2022: K. Rikev, “The Monuments of the Soviet Army in Bulgaria as an Instrument in the National Debate on Historical Memory and Oblivion” in Kultura Słowian. Rocznik Komisji Kultury Słowian PAU, t. XVIII (2022), pp. 67–80. [in Polish]

Savova-Mahon Borden 2001: M. Savova-Mahon Borden, The Politics of Nationalism under Communism in Bulgaria: Myth, Memories and Minorities (Ph.D. thesis, The School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, 2001).

Soboleva and Wrenn 2017: O. Soboleva, A. Wrenn, From Orientalism to Cultural Capital: The Myth of Russia in British Literature of the 1920s (Bern, 2017).

Sygkelos 2018: Y. Sygkelos, “Phobic Discourses of the Far Right: The Case of Volen Siderov” in East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, Vol. 32, No. 3 (2018), pp. 586–605.

Tsanov 2016: S. Tsanov, “Science and ideology in Yuriy Venelin’s book The old and today’s Bulgarians...” [in Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum 2016, Prešov, 2016, pp. 56–67]. [in Russian]

Wenshuang 2014: L. Wenshuang, The rise of Bulgarian nationalism and Russia's influence upon it (Ph.D. thesis, University of Louisville, 2014).

Wither 2016: J. Wither, “Making Sense of Hybrid Warfare” in Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2016), pp. 73–87.

Yakimova 2022: M. Yakimova, Fear and Propaganda (Sofia, 2022). [in Bulgarian]

Yakimova and Vatsov 2017: M. Yakimova, D. Vatsov, “Expropriation of discontent: Bulgarian populism, local interests and Russian propaganda” in Critique and Humanism, Vol. 47, No. 1, Media and Propaganda after the Cold War (2017), pp. 51–68. [in Bulgarian]

Zankina 2023: E. Zankina, “Pro-Russia or anti-Russia: Political dilemmas and dynamics in Bulgaria in the context of the war in Ukraine” [in G. Ivaldi, E. Zankina, eds., The Impacts of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on Right-wing Populism in Europe, Brussels, 2023, pp. 48–63].

Znepolski 2004: I. Znepolski, “Communism – a realm of memory without a generally accepted reference point. On the nature of post-communist trauma” [in I. Znepolski, ed., Around Pierre Nora: Realms of memory and constructing the present, Sofia, 2004, pp. 127–144]. [in Bulgarian]

Policy papers and media reports:

Bedrov 2023: I. Bedrov, “Three obvious consequences that Putin’s war brought to Bulgaria” in Radio Free Europe (22 February 2023). [in Bulgarian]

Bedrov and Dimitrova 2022: I. Bedrov, D. Dimitrova, “For Putin, Against ‘Global Liberalism’: Why So Many Bulgarian Parties Support Russia” in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (2 October 2022).

Havrylyuk and Tsvetanov 2023: I. Havrylyuk, V. Tsvetanov, “Bulgaria as a breeding ground for Russia’s influence in the Balkans” in Pulaski Policy Paper, No. 5 (2023).

Nikolov 2022: K. Nikolov, “The war that brought back the eternal Bulgarian dispute” in New Eastern Europe. Issue 4/2022: Values under siege.

Samorukov 2022: M. Samorukov, “Is Bulgaria Drifting Back Into Russia’s Orbit?” in Carnegie (28 June 2022).

Seroka 2021: M. Seroka, “Assisted assertiveness: Changes in Bulgaria’s policy towards Russia” in OSW Point of View (2021).

Simeonova and Wesolowsky 2022: E. Simeonova, T. Wesolowsky, “Revival On The Rise: Ahead Of Elections, Far-Right Party Is Tapping Into Bulgarian Public Anger” in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (1 October 2022).

Todorov 2022: M. Todorov, “Nationalist Party Activists Take Down Ukraine Flag from Sofia City Hall, Officials Restore It” in Bulgarian News Agency (5 May 2022).

Yanakiev 2023: K. Yanakiev, “The symbolic Russian occupation of Sofia” in Portal Kultura (12 March 2023).символната-руска-окупация-на-софия/ [in Bulgarian]

Yordanov 2022: M. Yordanov, “Protests for and against Provision of Military Aid for Ukraine Held at Sofia's Soviet Army Monument” in Bulgarian News Agency (4 May 2022).




Cómo citar

Stanchev, E. (2023). The growing Russophilia of post-communist Bulgarian nationalism: between entanglements and paradoxes: La creciente rusofilia del nacionalismo búlgaro poscomunista: entre enredos y paradojas. Araucaria, 25(53).



Monográfico III