874.00/2–647: Telegram

The Representative in Bulgaria (Barnes) to the Secretary of State

secret   urgent

95. Regret necessity report each day brings forth new evidence pointing to determination Communist dominated Bulgarian Govt to drive opposition leaders from GNA and to impose police sanctions rendering impossible any effective political opposition to Communist Party (mytel 87, January 301).

Prosecutor’s summation neutral officers trial asserted “without influence opposition officers conspiracy would not have been organized”. Prosecutor recommended “extenuating circumstances” in view of confessions. No doubt exists in minds of honest people how fabricated “confessions” were obtained. Even so no overt act proven; nor was any attempt made to prove more than “intention to work by whatever means possible for overthrow of govt and establishment truly democratic regime”. Nevertheless, trial serving purpose of opening wedge to prosecution opposition leaders as “traitors and agents Bulgarian and foreign reaction”.

Late last night Parliament voted withdrawal parliamentary immunity of opposition Agrarian Deputy Peter Koev on grounds trial revelations involved him in conspiracy against state. He was immediately arrested in chamber corridor by agents political security militia.

Recent days during continuation debate on confirmation election returns opposition deputies presented evidence widespread election frauds by producing on floor of chamber “stuffed ballots” actually used by Communists and false election cards issued by Communists municipal and commune authorities. These revelations provoked Prime Minister Dimitrov to further menacing declarations as to how opposition would be dealt with in another month (presumably after peace in [Page 149] force) and to employ “mucker” language reminiscent old time livery stable days US.

Opposition leaders fear Communists plan to clap them all in prison thus rendering Agrarian, Socialist and Independent intellectual opposition leaders [apparent garble]. Then after entry into force peace treaty to hold new elections permitting only three parties to stand namely: Communists, Govt Agrarians and Govt Socialists. “Labor Front” govt would then be formed.

Because of accumulating evidence Communists designs that might render US early recognition Bulgarian Govt most difficult, if not impossible, I sought out Provisional President Kolarov2 yesterday evening and on purely personal and friendly basis told him of my misgivings and concern. Our conversation touched upon neutral officers trial, contemplated action against Koev, reports of Communists’ intention to liquidate in general opposition leadership and menacing nature remarks made in Parliament against opposition. It developed very much as my conversation with Georgiev reported mytel 7, January 4.

Kolarov sought to reassure me on every point explaining that Communists now determined to adopt benevolent attitude toward those “led into stupidity of conspiracy or other acts of unjustifiable opposition to FF”. He asserted that govt now recognizes necessity accept existence of an opposition; that in fact govt has now come to western parliamentary conception realizing that without an opposition west cannot comprehend nature new Bulgarian regime.

I think he really believed some of what he said to me but this did not make his observations more convincing in light of evidence to contrary accumulating daily. It was mutually agreed that whenever I perceived developments that might disturb trend toward early recognition Bulgarian Govt, I should seek him out on personal basis and discuss matter. Conversation probably accomplished no more than to register continuing US desire to do all possible and proper under existing circumstances to see that diverse democratic elements permitted participate country’s political life.3

Sent Dept, repeated London 14, Moscow 15.

  1. Not printed; it read in part as follows:

    “I fear that long term stay of Georgi Dimitrov and his entourage Moscow has convinced present masters Bulgaria that it is far easier and much more agreeable to govern without opposition. I also fear they have become so accustomed to orders from Moscow that even illusion that independent Bulgarian Govt exists can be maintained only with greatest difficulty.” (874.00/1–3047)

  2. Vasil Kolarov, President, Bulgarian Grand National Assembly, November 21, 1946–December 9, 1947; member, Politburo and Central Committee, Bulgarian Communist Party.
  3. Telegram 97, February 6, from Sofia, not printed, reported that Agrarian leader Petkov had expressed deep appreciation to Representative Barnes for his conversation with Kolarov and had stated that all opposition leaders felt more secure as a result of the conversation. The telegram added:

    “He [Petkov] added that he would never despair of broadening political base government so long as US continued to manifest real interest in participation diverse democratic elements in political life of country.” (874.00/2–647)