Πλέβεν, Βουλγαρία

Valentin Asenov – «The Huckle»

Valentin Asenov – «The Huckle» was born on December 22, 1961 in the village of Obitel, Targovishte district. In 1981 he graduated from the Art High School in Kazanlak, and in 1987 from the University of VelikoTurnovo with a degree in painting. Since 1988 he has participated in many national and regional art exhibitions throughout the country, as well as in plein air painting. He is a member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists – painting section. Since 2008 he has been a part of the Board of Directors of the UBA Representative Office in Pleven, in 2015 becoming the chairman of the organization. He is a teacher at the National School of Arts "Panayot Pipkov", Pleven.

About the interview: In the interview he talks about how, as students, they went out on sitting strikes, protest marches. On one of the strikes, they were warned that they were being shot with cameras and "we may be looked for", but luckily this hasn’t happened. As an artist he has always felt free internally. But apart from the freedom of going out, before 1989, he lacked also the opportunity to express your thoughts freely, to be able to "paint pictures that are not only connected with the working class".

Stancho Toshkov Totov

Stancho Toshkov Totov is a businessman. He was born on February 7, 1972 in Pleven. Married, with two twin boys. He completed his secondary education in Pleven, and his higher education at the Academy of Economics "D. A. Tsenov", Svishtov, specialty in Finance. He entered politics in 2000 and from 2003 to 2005 was vice-chairman and member of the National Council of the Youth Union of Democratic Forces (UDF). Municipal Councillor and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Budget and Finance at the Municipal Council – Pleven, Mandate 2003-2007. In 2007 he was among the founders of the Political Party "Society for New Bulgaria".

About the interview: One of his childhood memories is how when he was participating in a dancing group he was dancing at a festival of the people of the Bulgarian communist party and he felt the injustice almost physically because the viewers table was covered in bananas and oranges, something that in those days could only be found in some shops only before New Year and people had to queue for them forever. He appreciates the political freedom after 1989, because before then personal development was a matter of moral compromise. Bulgaria joining the EU has given the business a lot of conveniences and a broad market.

Pencho Linov – «Pelin Pelinov»

Pencho Linov, more widely known by his pseudonym "Pelin Pelinov", is a Bulgarian author and playwright. He studied at the Men’s High School in Pleven in 1954, graduating with full honors. In 1959 he got his diploma from the Faculty of Law at Sofia University, and later in 1965 his diploma from the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts "Krastyo Sarafov". For 12 years he worked as a playwright at the "Ivan Vazov" National Theater in Sofia. He is one of the founders of the "Tears and Laugher" theater. An author of novels, screenplays and scripts, his most impressive work is the pentalogy "Rise and Fall", dedicated to the wars for Bulgarian national unification since the beginning of the XX century.

About the interview: He shares moments from his personal history - how he was expelled from the university after the events in Hungary of 1956, how he visited his father, imprisoned in the late 1940s by "people's power" in a camp, because he owned a lot of land. Pelinov also sais that thanks to the changes after 1989 he has managed, though late, to write the "novels of his life" about the wars, because censorship would not allow their publication before.

Nina Chelijanska

Nina Chelijanska was born in 1962 in Sofia. She studied in Pleven and in the German Language High School in Lovech, graduating with German Philology at the "St. Cyril and St. Methodius" University of Veliko Tarnovo. She has worked as a teacher in Dolni Dabnik, Troyan and at the Foreign Language High School in Pleven. She has been writing poems for 10 years. These are published primarily online, but also appear in print and in almanacs. She has been awarded by many national poetry competitions.

About the interview: In the interview she's sharing how she learned about the resignation of the general secretary of the Bulgarian communist party - Zhivkov, from her pupils and how she felt unprepared to answer their questions. She's telling about how when she was in 10th grade in the Language School her favourite German teacher - a German from East Germany - who was a party official for his colleagues and whom she could never think capable of doing something dishonest, possibly turned out to be a Stasi agent. In a memorandum he denegrated a colleague of his so badly that he was dismissed. She's continuing the story by saying that the pupils of the dismissed teacher made a subscription and sent a delegation to the East Germany embassy, while in the end they said goodbye to their teacher crying.

Diyan Pavlov – «Jimmy»

Diyan Pavlov, popularly known by his nickname "Jimmy" for his likeness in his youth to Jimmy Hendrix, is an artist. The Creative workshop "O'Pismenech" which he made, is included in the school textbook on Fine Arts for 10th grade. Jimmy presents to the public a spectacle on the history of writing, disguising himself as Chinese, Egyptian, Arab, medieval monk, Johannes Gutenberg, and demonstrating manual production of paper made by Cai Lun method. Jimmy is an active participant in the first demonstrations and rallies in Bulgaria after November 10th, 1989.

About the interview: He's telling about his "first private demonstration" when on the 11th of November 1989 him and his family went to the central square in Pleven and put up peaceful slogans. Jimi had taken part in building up the first new political subjects but then he withdrew so that he could keep his independence and the chance to create.

Prof. Sergey Iliev

Assoc. prof. Sergey Iliev, MD, Ph.D, is a surgeon. Head of the Department of Coloproctology and purulent-septic surgery at University Hospital "Dr. Georgi Stranski", Pleven. Born on 22.12.1963. Graduated from the Mathematics high school "Geo Milev" in Pleven in 1981. Graduated in Medicine in 1989 from the Higher Medical Academy in Pleven. He acquired a specialty in General Surgery in 1996. Associate Professor of Surgery at the DPSD (Department of Propedeutics of Surgical Diseases) since 2013. He writes poetry.

About the interview: He thinks he's lucky to have lived in two centuries and two eras - of the Iron Curtain and the democracy. After 1990 he was intending to leave but he got a job in a community hospital and stayed which he doesn't regret. His friends who have left also have had a good life but aren't happier than him. He thinks that it's important to look at the positives so that we can go forward.

Valja Minkova

Valja Minkova is a public figure and pedagogue. She was born on May 20, 1954. She completed her high school education at the High School of Mathematics in Pleven, while her higher education in philosophy she received at Sofia University. From 1975 to 1979 she worked in the Department of Education at the aviation faculty of the National Defense University, located in Dolna Mitropoliya. During the period between 1991 and 2008 she held various positions in the Military Club in Pleven – from organizer of cultural and artistic activities to director. Additionally, she has taught at many of the town’s schools. She is currently an associate at a private company in Pleven, where she is involved with training courses and with preparing projects for European programs.

About the interview: In the interview, she shares that as a teacher, public figure and journalist she has always strived to show the good and the core human values, which are also the EU's values. Lists what she thinks are the mistakes of the transition period that lead to disappointment now, 30 years after the changes. She believes that the biggest problem today is finding people who honestly and responsibly to manage society.

Vassil Georgiev – «Vasko the Patch»

Vassil Georgiev, known as "Vasko the Patch", born 1959, is a blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, frontman of the Sofia rock band Poduene Blues Band. Organizer of the festival "Flower for Gosho", dedicated to Georgi Minchev, and of Sofia Blues Meeting.

About the interview: In his interview he's telling about where he was when he learned about the start of the changes in Bulgaria on the 10th of November 1989 and how he became a music idol of thousands Bulgarian people thanks to his participation in the first mass meetings. According to him, united Europe is the best thing that has happened since the Second world war and we are lucky to have experienced it.

Antonija Karaivanova

Antonija Karaivanova is an artist. She was born in Veliko Tarnovo and studied Graphics at the "St. Cyril and St. Methodius" University of Veliko Tarnovo. She currently lives in Pleven. For years she has worked as a curator at Art Gallery "Iliya Beshkov". Since May 2019 she has been the director of the gallery.

About the interview: She remembers how when she was a student she learned about what Solidarity was creating in Poland in the beginning of the 80's and how they were gathering food supplies for the Polish people. She shares that the most sensitive of her classmates at the university couldn't bear the betrayal of their dreams, that many of them went to live abroad. She's talking about the enormous trauma in her family because of her grandfather's death, after 9th of September 1944, as he was killed without any kind justice, simply because he had graduated as a doctor in a western country.

Georgi Popov

Georgi Popov was born on March 3, 1953 in the town of Pleven. He graduated secondary specialized education – photography. His great-grandfather was an Orthodox priest in Pleven. As a photo reporter he started work in newspaper "Septemvrijska pobeda" (September Victory) – Pleven. His professional development continues in the regional daily "Naroden glas" (People’s Voice) – Lovech. His photographs have been published in the largest national newspapers. The highlight of his photographic career is working for the Sofia Press Agency. He is already a pensioner, but continues to cooperate with Pleven editions. Georgi Popov has a huge archive of his own and archive photos.

About the interview: He shares that the overthrow of Zhivkov on November 10, 1989 was a great surprise to him and his family because they believed that the "red power" would be eternal. But the fear of the era of totalitarianism has not completely disappeared. At least until 1994-95, when “all enterprises began to collapse” and “we saw that really there was no going back, that the state was starting to go in a completely different way and we started with some dreams again - that once things are regulated, laws would change and everything would go on a democratic way”. He had the chance to be one of the two photographers who shot the first major pilgrimage to the Belene camp - with more than 10,000 people in June 1990.