Todor Zhivkov, Bulgaria's undisputed leader for 35 years, playing host to the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in a hunting lodge in Bulgaria. Early 1970s.

It is a unique photo - events like this were never reported, and usually no records were kept. The service personnel were sworn to secrecy, hence the facial expressions of some in the background!

The top Communist nomenklatura were often keen hunters. Some argue this was an attempt to emulate the old ruling classes they toppled, and in many cases managed to abolish, or 'liquidate' in their own terms.

Personal archive

Published in Bulgaria


In the Kremlin, 1980s

Kostadin Chakarov (on the right of this image) was an advisor and personal assistant to Todor Zhivkov, who ruled Bulgaria between 1954-1989. He remembers the rituals of that time and the legacy of the 9 September 1944, the day of the Communist takeover in Bulgaria.

What are your memories of the 9 September before 1989?

Споделете вашите спомени.

Published in YOUR STORY

48 years ago, at dawn on 21 August 1968, the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries (except Romania) crossed the borders of Czechoslovakia and toppled the government of Alexander Dubček. His attempts to reform the Communist regime and aspirations of a Socialism with a human face inevitably put Prague on a collision course with Moscow. The orders from Moscow were brief - the status quo had to be preserved at any cost, the Prague Spring was doomed and the tanks rolled in.

Do you remember the Prague Spring?

Five nations sent their troops, including Bulgaria. Most of the Bulgarian soldiers went via the Soviet Union, where they were briefed. Only a few of them knew the exact destination, though they were all told that their mission was to stop a counter-revolution and prevent a West German invasion. The Bulgarian soldiers stayed in Czechoslovakia till October.

Навършват се 45 години от най-мащабната операция на български войски след Втората световна война, при това не на учение, а инструктирани за бойни действия. Призори на 21 август 1968 г. войските на страните от Варшавския договор (без Румъния) навлизат в Чехословакия. Това е краят на Пражката пролет и на опитите на тогавашния водач на Чехословакия Александър Дубчек за реформи и 'социализъм с човешко лице'.

Бяхте ли с набори 1948-1949 в Чехословакия през лятото на 1968? Знаете ли нещо от вашите родители за тези събития?

Published in Bulgaria

Watched closely by the Kremlin elite, the Yugoslav Communist leader Tito receives the Order of Lenin. It's an unusual piece of visual history - the renegade Marshall had to embrace Soviet customs to receive Moscow's highest award: from the 'brotherly kisses' to laying a wreath at Lenin's mausoleum.

Moscow and Belgrade fell out after after the Kremlin gave orders to crush the Prague Spring in 1968. The moment here shows their reconciliation, and this visit to Moscow in 1972 comes only months after the Soviet leader Brezhnev's visit to Belgrade.

Grudgingly, Moscow acknowledged Yugoslavia's right to chose its own way. This is the time of détente between East and West, when Tito's role in the Non-Aligned Movement became more important for Moscow than what kind of socialism he chose for Yugoslavia. It's time to bury the hatchet.

Converted from 16 mm film, silent.

Published in Balkans

Kelvedon Hatch, just outside London, was one of Britain's top secrets during the Cold War. Built in the 1950s into the hillside, this colossal underground bunker was to house more than 600 people and to keep them going for up to 3 months – had Britain come under a nuclear attack from Moscow.

The Royal Air Force was to control from here its response to a nuclear attack. It was also to become the Headquarters of an emergency Central British Government, including the Prime Minister's office.

Geiger radiation counters
Communications Room
Home Office Radio Room
Emergency communications
Emergency radio studio for the Prime Minister of the day
Triangulation, Map Room
Map Room
Room for the Prime Minister of the day
Commissioner's room
Sick bay for routine operations
Government departments
Information on how to survive
Government communications room

© Velislav Radev

Juris Podnieks was a Latvian film director. He graduated from the Moscow VGIK film school in 1975 and worked at the Riga Film Studio.

Over 3 years Podnieks filmed his documentary 'Hello, do you hear us?' as the Soviet Union was collapsing. It showed civil unrest in Uzbekistan, survivors of the earthquake in Armenia, striking workers in Yaroslavl, former residents returning to Chernobyl.

Juris Podnieks, 1990, 51 minutes

More on Juris Podnieks (1950 - 1992)

Published in Red Square