Valko Velyov Chervenkov (Bulgarian: Вълко Вельов Червенков) (6 September 1900 – 21 October 1980) was a Bulgarian communist politician. He served as leader of the Communist Party between 1949 and 1954, and Prime Minister between 1950 and 1956. His rule was marked by the consolidation of the Stalin model, rapid industrialisation, collectivisation and large-scale persecution of political opponents.
Valko Velyov Chervenkov
Вълко Вельов Червенков
|34th Prime Minister of Bulgaria|
23 January 1950 – 18 April 1956
Acting: 23 January 1950 – 3 February 1950
|Preceded by||Vasil Kolarov|
|Succeeded by||Anton Yugov|
|Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria|
20 July 1949 – 3 February 1950
|General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party|
15 July 1949 – 26 January 1954
|Preceded by||Georgi Dimitrov|
|Succeeded by||Todor Zhivkov|
|Born||6 September 1900|
Zlatitsa, Principality of Bulgaria
|Died||21 October 1980 (aged 80)|
Sofia, People's Republic of Bulgaria
|Political party||Bulgarian Communist Party (1919-1956)|
|Spouse(s)||Elena Dimitrova (sister of Georgi Dimitrov) (1902-1974)|
Early life and career in the Soviet UnionEdit
Chervenkov was born in Zlatitsa, Bulgaria. He became a member of the Communist Party in 1919 and participated in communist youth group activities and newspaper editing. He took part in the failed 1923 September Uprising and was sentenced to death, but was allowed to emigrate to the Soviet Union.
In 1925 Chervenkov fled to the Soviet Union. He attended the Marx-Lenin school in Moscow and eventually became its director. He became a supporter of the governing style of Joseph Stalin and was known for his high wit and knowledge of Marxism–Leninism. He was recruited as an agent in the NKVD under the alias "Spartak". In 1941, Chervenkov became the director of a radio station which sent anti-nazi and pro-communist messages to the Bulgarian nation.
In 1944 Chervenkov returned to Bulgaria on a mission for his brother-in-law, Georgi Dimitrov. Chervenkov became a member of the government which took office soon after the end of World War II in 1945 which quickly came to be controlled by Communists. He became minister of culture in 1947, and became deputy prime minister in 1949. Shortly after becoming deputy prime minister, Bulgarian leader Georgi Dimitrov died and Bulgaria temporarily adopted a model of collective leadership. Chervenkov succeeded Dimitrov as general secretary of the party, and Vasil Kolarov took Dimitrov's other post of prime minister. This only lasted a year before Kolarov died in 1950. At that time, Chervenkov became prime minister as well, combining the two most powerful posts in Bulgaria in his hands with full Soviet approval. Chervenkov's policies closely resembled those of the Soviet Union at the time, which earned him the nickname "Little Stalin". His rule featured harsh repression of all deviation from the party line, arbitrary suppression of culture and the arts along the lines of Socialist realism, and an isolationist foreign policy. He also became the object of a personality cult. In 1950, a collectivization campaign was launched. By early 1951, Chervenkov had expelled one in five party members, including many high officials, in his campaign for complete party discipline. Out of 460,000 members, 100,000 were expelled from the party by 1953. Although Chervenkov's personality cult model was similar to that of Stalin - various places were named after him like the Medical University in Sofia and one of the city's districts.  He personally accepted it only as a necessity of the current political situation and strongly opposed any extremities.
By 1953, Bulgaria had cut ties with the West and 90% of its exports and imports involved Soviet partnership. Chervenkov's cabinet used intimidation and supply discrimination to increase collectivization rates. Between 1950 and 1953, state-owned arable land increased from 12% to 61%. Despite these collectivization efforts, the 1949–1953 Five-Year Plan failed to achieve its target, marking −0.9% growth in agriculture for the period, although at the same time industry marked a 20.7% growth, while total economic growth amounted to 8.4%.
Even before the death of Stalin, Chervenkov had already begun moving away from the Stalinist line. The official approval of Dimitar Dimov's novel Tobacco marked a slight loosening of Party control over cultural activities. In 1953 relations with Greece and Yugoslavia were re-established, some political amnesties were granted, and planners discussed increasing production of consumer goods and reducing the prices of commodities. After 1953 Chervenkov was in an insecure position, and made several steps in order to gain political support – he gave up his leadership of the Party in 1954, reduced Soviet intervention in Bulgarian economic and political life, reduced the pace of collectivisation and released some 10,000 political prisoners by 1955. In April 1956, following Khrushchev's de-Stalinisation, the Bulgarian Communist Party denounced Stalinism (and implicitly, Chervenkov's authoritarianism). He resigned the same year. Between 1962 and 1969, his membership in the Party was suspended.
In 1926 Chervenkov married Georgi Dimitrov's youngest sister, Elena. They had two children - Irina (1931–2014) and Vladimir (1935–1965).
Honours and awardsEdit
- Order of Lenin, four times (incl 1967 and 1980)
Media related to Valko Chervenkov at Wikimedia Commons
- Bulgaria: Stalinism and de-Stalinization, Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- The Smelting of Bulgaria's Stalin, The Sofia Echo, 19 June 2003
- Памет за Вълко Червенков
- "Chervenkov and Stalinism in Bulgaria". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1992. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "The Chervenkov Era". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1992. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Огнянов, Любомир (2008). Политическата система в България 1949 – 1956. Sofia: Стандарт. p. 116. ISBN 978-954-8976-45-9.
- "Непознатият Червенков". Duma. 26 February 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Foreign and Economic Policies". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1992. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Early Collectivization Campaigns". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1992. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Average Annual Growth Rate of Net Material Product by Five-Year Plan, 1949-88". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1992. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "After Stalin". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1992. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- "The Fall of Chervenkov". Library of Congress Country Studies. June 1992. Retrieved 13 October 2012.