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Zhelev, Zhelyu Mitev

Zhelev, Zhelyu Mitev [key], 1935–2015, Bulgarian political leader. Initially a member of the Communist party, he was disciplined for his dissident political views and expelled from the party in 1965. Later, he worked (1975–89) for the Institute for Culture until being ousted for his reformist views. A founder (1989) and first head of the Union of Democratic Forces, Zhelev was elected to constitutional assembly in 1990 and then was elected Bulgaria's president by the assembly. Following the adoption of a new constitution, he became (1992) Bulgaria's first democratically elected president, serving until 1997. An intellectual and a prolific writer, Zhelev published numerous books, his most famous being Fascism (1982), a critique of totalitarian governments that was banned until the downfall of Bulgarian Communism.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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