Infobox_President | name = Zhelyu Zhelev
nationality = Bulgarian
order = 2nd President of the
Republic of Bulgaria
1 August 1990
22 January 1997
birth_date = Birth date and age|1935|3|3|df=y
party = UDF
Zhelyu Mitev Zhelev ( _bg. Желю Митев Желев) (born
March 3, 1935) is a Bulgarian politician and former dissidentwho was the first democratically elected President of Bulgaria from 1990to 1997.
Zhelev was born in the village of Veselinovo. He graduated in
philosophyfrom the Sofia University"St. Kliment Ohridski" in 1958 and later earned a Ph.D. in 1974. A member of the Bulgarian Communist Party, but expelled for political reasons in 1965, he was then interned from Sofiathe following year and had to spend six years in unemployment.
In 1988 he founded the
Ruse Committeeand a year later became a founding member and chairman of the Club for Support of Glasnost and Restructuring, which propelled him to the position of Chairman of the Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces. He was elected MP in the 7th Grand National Assembly, which elected him President of the Republic of Bulgariaon August 1, 1990. In January 1992 he became the first democratically elected Bulgarian President and served his full five-year term until January 1997, having been defeated in the preceding elections by the new UDF candidate Petar Stoyanov.
After the 1996 election defeat Zhelev still remained in politics, but on a much smaller scale. He became Honorary Chair of the
Liberal Democratic Unionand Honorary Chair of the Liberal Internationaland in 1997 went on to establish and preside over a foundation named after him. Zhelev was the initiator and president of the Balkan Political Club, a union of former political leaders from Southeast Europe.
Zhelev has written a number of books and publications, the most notable one being his controversial 1982 work "Fashizmat" ( _bg. Фашизмът; "
The Fascism"). Three weeks after publication in 1982, the book was forbidden and removed from bookstores and libraries as it pointed out similarities between the fascist dictatorship and the socialist regime.
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