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Communist Leaders Agree to Multiparty System, Democracy

January 26, 1990

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Communist leaders, under pressure to end one-party rule in Bulgaria, hurriedly adopted a new platform embracing a multiparty system and social democracy, the BTA news agency said today.

The program was drawn up late Thursday during a meeting called after several days of labor unrest, the official news agency said.

BTA gave few details of the hastily convened Central Committee meeting. It said only that 20 members spoke and heard a concluding speech from party leader Petar Mladenov, the former foreign minister who took over after hard- liner Todor Zhivkov was ousted Nov. 10.

The report said the platform commits the Communists, who have ruled alone since the late 1940s, to pluralism and social democracy and is to be voted on at a party congress next week. A showdown between reformers and more orthodox Communists is expected at the congress.

The Communist Party in Bulgaria, drawing on a century of tradition and facing a relatively weak opposition, has not collapsed or abandoned power as swiftly as others in Eastern Europe.

But labor unrest, virtually unknown in Bulgaria since World War II, has spread since Zhivkov’s ouster. Sofia bus drivers and coal miners were among those on strike this week, demanding higher pay or better working conditions.

Finance Minister Belcho Belchev appealed on national television Thursday night for an end to the strikes and said Bulgaria will face ″disastrous losses″ if they continue.

Productivity dropped 13 percent in December compared with 1989, he said.

Zhivkov was arrested last week on allegations of abuse of power during his more than three decades in power. No date for the trial of the 78-year-old former leader has been announced.

The party daily Rabotnichesko Delo said today that while Zhivkov was in power, he ordered charges to be filed against his daughter-in-law, Maroussya Mirchevska, who was accused of trying to defect with her young son.

It said Mrs. Mirchevska was forced to live in the Soviet Union for five years. It did not say what had happened to the child, now 10 years old, but printed what it said was a plea from the woman to be reunited with her son.

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