Rumen Radev
Румен Радев
Official portrait, 2018
5th President of Bulgaria
Assumed office
22 January 2017
Prime Minister
Vice PresidentIliana Iotova
Preceded byRosen Plevneliev
Personal details
Rumen Georgiev Radev

(1963-06-18) 18 June 1963 (age 60)
Dimitrovgrad, PR Bulgaria
Political partyIndependent (1990–present)
Other political
Bulgarian Communist Party (1985–1990)
Ginka Radeva
(m. 1996; div. 2014)
(m. 2016)
Military service
Allegiance Bulgaria
Branch/service Bulgarian Air Force
Years of service1987–2017
RankMajor general

Rumen Georgiev Radev (Bulgarian: Румен Георгиев Радев [ˈrumɛn ˈradɛf]; born 18 June 1963) is a Bulgarian politician and former major general who has been the president of Bulgaria since 22 January 2017.

Radev previously served as higher commander of the Bulgarian Air Force.[1] He won the 2016 presidential election, as an independent candidate supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, defeating GERB candidate Tsetska Tsacheva in the second round.[2][3][4][5] He won a second consecutive term in the 2021 election, with 66% of the vote in the second round.[6][7]


Radev was born on 18 June 1963 in Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria. His family is from Slavyanovo in the Haskovo region. In 1982, he graduated from the Mathematical School in Haskovo with a gold medal. He graduated from the Georgi Benkovski Bulgarian Air Force University in 1987 as the top graduate. In 1992, he graduated from the US Air Force Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB. From 1994 to 1996, he studied at the Rakovski Defence and Staff College, where he was also the top graduate. He holds a Doctor of Military Sciences degree in the field of improvement of tactical training of flight crews and simulation of air combat.

In 2003, he graduated from Air War College or Air University at Maxwell AFB in the United States with a Master of Strategic Studies with honors.[1]


In August 2016, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABR) officially nominated Radev as a candidate for the November 2016 presidential election.[2][8][9] In the same month, ABR withdrew its presidential nomination of General Radev[10] in favour of Ivaylo Kalfin.

In the first round of the election, conducted on 6 November 2016, Radev came first with 25.44% of the vote.[11] He faced GERB candidate Tsetska Tsacheva in the runoff the following Sunday 13 November. He defeated her, winning 59.37% of the popular vote.[12]

On 1 February 2021, he officially announced that he and Iliana Yotova would run for a second term.[13] The presidential election happened on 14 November 2021. Prior to the election, several parties declared their support for Radev, including ITN, PP and BSPzB. Radev received 1,322,385 votes in the first round, alongside his running partner Iliana Yotova, 49.42% of the vote.[14] This led to a second round run-off with the GERB-supported candidate Anastas Gerdzhikov, who got 22.83% of the vote in the first round.[15][16] Radev won in the run-off, with 66.7% of the vote, starting his second term as president.[6]

Rivalry with Prime Minister Borisov

President Rumen Radev (left) and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (right). The two Bulgarian leaders often publicly clash.

Since his election into office, Radev has frequently criticised Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whom Radev views as permitting corruption through a 'reckless leadership style', as well as attempting to strangle his political opposition. This led Radev to frequently veto legislative proposals submitted by Borisov's GERB party to Bulgarian Parliament, issuing a total of 19 vetoes in his first two and a half years of his presidency.[17][18][19][20] Borisov, on the other hand, often accused Radev of 'sabotaging the government's work', as well as supporting the opposition Socialist Party during campaign periods.[21][22]

In his 2019 New Year's address to the Bulgarian People, broadcast on almost all Bulgarian TV channels, Radev stated that he believed that Borisov's Government had failed in addressing corruption, placed the country in economic stagnation with price increases and low wages, undermined the fairness of elections, as well as 'retreated' from law and justice.[23][24]

F-16 deal veto

Radev with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, 20 March 2018

In June 2019, Radev vetoed a major government contract for the acquisition of several F-16 Fighting Falcons from the United States at a cost of around 2bln lev. Radev strongly criticised the deal, accusing the government of authoritarianism and stated that he believed it had agreed to downgrades in the jets' avionics and armament, in order to get a lower purchasing price, which he also deemed too high for what they are worth. He added, that as a former pilot and air force commander, he didn't believe that the deal was in Bulgaria's best interests.[25][26] The pro-government majority in Bulgaria's national assembly overruled Radev's veto and the deal was nonetheless concluded.[27][28]

Rejection of Geshev as General Prosecutor

In November 2019, Radev refused to sign the decree appointing Ivan Geshev to the post of Chief Public Prosecutor of Bulgaria, following the latter's election to the post by Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council. He did not officially declare the motive for his refusal in written form, instead deciding to explain it personally to the media. Radev remarked that Geshev was the only candidate for the post and opined that the single-candidate nature of his election was supported by Borisov's government. He expressed the opinion that Geshev's candidacy had been supported only by government-controlled institutions and not by civic ones, which in his eyes led to a lack of public confidence in the institution.[29][30][31] The Supreme Judicial Council refused to revise their decision and voted in favour of Geshev a second time, which triggered a constitutional requirement for Radev as president to sign the decree.[32] Stating that he would refuse to violate the constitution, Radev did so following a meeting with Geshev, but called for changes to Bulgaria's constitution.[33]

Radev with U.S. President Donald Trump, Paris, 2018

Wiretapping scandal

The relations between Radev and the newly appointed general prosecutor quickly soured, as Geshev released what he stated was a wiretap of Radev discussing his involvement in alleged criminal activities. Geshev further appealed to the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria to have Radev's legal immunity revoked. The general prosecutor's actions backfired in the eyes of the Bulgarian people and were widely viewed as an attempt to suppress and censor the president – either as 'revenge' for the president's initial veto of Geshev's appointment, or as a preparation for a move to remove Radev from his post as president.[34][35] In response, Radev accused Geshev's prosecution of being controlled by Borisov's government, whom he accused of using both the prosecution, the secret services and the National Police Service to crush dissent.[36]

Borisov swore that he had not ordered Radev to be wiretapped,[37] but Radev doubled down – noting that the agency responsible for wiretapping in Bulgaria, the State Agency for National Security, was directly responsible to the government and the prime minister. He further questioned the motives as to why it appeared to him as though the general prosecutor "saw crime and corruption in everything, except for the council of ministers".[38]

Declaration of no confidence

On 4 February 2020, Radev announced that he had formally withdrawn confidence in Borisov's government. He pointed out that there was, in his opinion, a strong crisis in the governance of all levels, a lack of will to reform and fight corruption, and a state of morally-questionable lawlessness in the country. Borisov accused Radev of trying to "take over" the country and stated that his government did not depend on Radev for confidence, adding that he believed the presidency to be a useless post, holding only 'symbolic councils', which he asserted never decided anything.[39][40]

The continuing conflict between the prior PM and the now president Radev

After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bulgaria, Radev and Borisov's government initially appeared to thaw their relations for the sake of national unity during a time of crisis.[41] This détente, however, was not to last – the two entered into another conflict shortly thereafter, with Radev partially vetoing a law passed by the Bulgarian government imposing additional measures in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. Radev objected to a paragraph criminalizing the spread of "fake news" with a fine of up to 5,000 euros. Surprisingly, Radev also vetoed a paragraph added on the insistence of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which was supposed to impose price controls on essential goods. The veto sparked anger in Borisov, who accused Radev of populism and political opportunism. Despite this, Borisov ordered his parliamentary group to accept the veto on the two paragraphs – removing both the fake news fine and the socialist-added price control paragraphs from the final version of the law. The amended bill, however, still featured a paragraph which obligated telecom providers to track and store their user's data for up to 6 months and provide it upon request of the authorities, with the stated goal of tracking the movements of quarantined citizens.[42]

The two continued to clash over the coming days, with Radev frequently criticising the government for its handling of the state of emergency and accusing it of quote mining the World Health Organization for political gains. In reply, Borisov accused Radev of sabotaging the state of emergency and compared Radev to a "dirty old hag of a mother-in-law, the nasty kind", expressing bewilderment at "how Radev was able to make [political] inflammatory statements on the day, in which his own [Radev's] father had passed away". Radev concluded, however, that the conflict was "only in Borisov's head", stating that he had never called for the state of the emergency to be lifted and merely disagreed with the government's handling of it.[43][44] In October 2020, Radev attended an investment forum in Estonia, but his visit was cut short after it was revealed that he had been exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual while in Bulgaria.[45] Some sources alleged that Radev had been aware of that prior to travelling, while the president accused political opponents of deliberately orchestrating a campaign against him in order to tarnish his image, displaying a negative PCR test he had obtained prior to his official trip.[46]

Borisov photo scandal and drone controversy

In June 2020, photographs emerged that purported to show what appeared to be Prime Minister Borisov lying half-naked on a bed, next to a nightstand featuring a handgun and stacks of euro banknotes. Borisov confirmed that the room in which the photos were taken was his, but denied the gun and money, stating that the images could have been manipulated. Borisov accused President Radev of flying a consumer drone into his residence in order to take the pictures. He also accused former Ombudswoman Maya Manolova, TV star Slavi Trifonov and his own former second in command Tsvetan Tsvetanov (who had just left and condemned the ruling party) of involvement in a plot to take photos of him while he was sleeping in a "KGB-Style" kompromat operation. Radev condemned the leaks and called it an "insane" invasion of the prime minister's privacy. He added that he owns a drone, but that the accusation that he personally piloted it into the prime minister's residence to take pictures was part of Borisov's "fantasy and paranoia".[47][48][49][50]


Arrest of advisors and anti-government protesters

Main article: 2020–2021 Bulgarian protests

In July 2020, agents of Chief Prosecutor Geshev entered the presidency and detained several of the president's advisors. This, alongside the photo scandal and an incident on a Burgas beach significantly impacted the credibility of Borisov's government, leading to the beginning of large-scale anti-government protests, which Radev openly supported. Radev made a televised address to the nation, in which he demanded that both the entire government and the chief prosecutor resign, openly calling them "mafia".[51]

April 2021 Elections and Yanev government

On 12 January 2021, Radev signed the election law, scheduling the next regular Bulgarian elections for April 4.[52] The elections came after a period of public protest against the Borisov government, and during a period of health restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Radev voted using the newly installed machine voting system, and said that he voted for "a free, just and prosperous Bulgaria".[53]

After the elections, Radev decided to not postpone the convocation of the Bulgarian National Assembly,[54] despite the fragmented nature of the newly elected parliament. Radev also dismissed the possibility of convening a Grand National Assembly, as proposed by GERB leader Boyko Borisov.[55]

In his address to the opening session of the National Assembly, Radev expressed hope for a regular cabinet, highlighting the many issues facing Bulgaria: including poverty, the COVID-pandemic and corruption, however he also called on parties to avoid forming "unprincipled" coalitions.[56]

On 19 April, shortly after the opening session of parliament, Radev held consultations with all the parliamentary groups.[57] During the consultations, Radev clashed with representatives from the GERB party, who accused him of expediting the procedure of consultations in order to impede government formations.[58] Radev, in his turn, denied that the Presidential institution would serve as an "architect" of future governments.[59]

After the failure of government formation, Radev announced the formation of a Caretaker Cabinet on 11 May, headed by his secretary of defense, Stefan Yanev, until new legislative elections were held on 11 July.[60] Radev announced that the caretaker government's priorities would be to organise fair elections without vote buying, sort out the supply of vaccines and present a Recovery and Development Plan to the European Union.[61] Radev further hailed the cabinet as a government built on "consensus, combing experts from the left, center and right". On the same day, Radev officially dissolved the 45th National Assembly, noting that while it did not have a long term in office it would "be remembered for its role in dragging Bulgaria out of authoritarianism and corruption".

Radev generally praised the work of the First Yanev caretaker cabinet, especially highlighting the decrease in vote buying and invalid ballots, as well as the revelations of massive corruption in the state, as a success.[62] There were a number of cabinet changes in the Second Yanev Government, with the Minister of Economy, Kiril Petkov, and Minister of Finance, Asen Vasiliev, leaving to form the party "We Continue the Change".[63] The appointment of the second Yanev caretaker cabinet made Radev the President who oversaw the most caretaker cabinets, as well as the only President to have appointed two consecutive caretaker cabinets.

The previous ruling party, GERB, consistently accused President Radev of using the caretaker cabinet as a "pre-election headquarters" and of trying to take over the state.[64]

During the Second Yanev government's term, President Radev was accused by some individuals, notably those from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, of implicitly supporting the newly formed party led by the former caretaker ministers.[65]

The period of the Yanev caretaker cabinet ended on 13 December, after the successful formation of a government led by Kiril Petkov. During the transfer of power to the new government, Radev praised the caretaker ministers, noting that they "stabilised the country" and "showed that a unity of purpose can be achieved across political lines".[66]

Re-election campaign

See also: 2021 Bulgarian general election

On 1 February 2021, Rumen Radev announced his intention to seek a second term as President of Bulgaria, with his running mate being the incumbent vice president, Iliana Yotova .[67] Radev declared that his candidacy was aimed at building a "stronger state" and continuing the message of change.

Radev's candidacy for president was endorsed by ITN,[68]BSP,[69]PP[70] and ISBG.[71] This made Radev the favourite for the upcoming elections.[72]

Radev announced on 20 September that he had decided to run as an independent, meaning he was to be nominated by an "initiative committee".[73] The initiative committee was composed of 189 individuals, including important political figures such as BSP MPs Kristian Vigenin and Vesela Lecheva, public activists Nikolay Hadjigenov and Arman Babikyan, as well as ITN MPs Stanislav Balabanov and Filip Stanev.[74]

Radev's re-election campaign faced difficulties after the nominations of the dean of Sofia University, Atanas Gerdjikov as the candidate of the GERB party, as well as the independent nomination of Lozan Panov, with the support of Democratic Bulgaria.[75]

On 17 October, Radev began his campaign for president with a hike to the Cherni Vrah, calling it a "hike for a more just Bulgaria".[76] Radev and his running mate, Yotova, highlighted that they wished to run a positive campaign based on reflecting "the voice of Bulgarian citizens".[77][78]

During the campaign, Radev managed to fundraise 730, 000 Leva, double the amount fund raised by his closest opponent, Atanas Gerdjikov.[79]

After the first round, held on 14 November, Radev came out as the strongest candidate with 49% of the vote, which however still meant that he had to face GERB candidate Atanas Gerdjikov in the second round.[80] In his statement after the election result, Radev characterised his victory as a "break from corruption, lawlessness, and authoritarianism", and claimed that attempts to "divide and manipulate society" had failed. Radev called on voters to not become apathetic claiming that they were facing the "organised forces of the status qou" in the second round.[81] According to Gallup, Radev voters came primarily from PP, BSP and ITN.[82]

In the aftermath of the first round, the two leading candidates agreed to hold a debate.[83] The debate was held on the state broadcaster, BNT, and lasted 90 minutes.[84] During the debate, the two candidates mostly agreed on the need for a regular cabinet, continuing the current policy towards North Macedonia and vaccinating against the COVID-19 pandemic.[85] The two candidates ended up clashing on the topic of refugees, with Gerdjikov being open to providing asyulum for some refugees, while Radev stood against, as well as the caretaker cabinets handling of the COVID pandemic, with Radev defending it, while Gerdjikov criticised it.[86] The most controversial topic of the debate came during discussions of Bulgaria-Russia relations, with Gerdjikov arguing for continued sanctions, while Radev called the current sanctions ineffective. To the question of "Who does the Crimean Peninsula belong to?", Radev gave a controversial answer saying "Right now, Russia", which caused outrage in Ukraine,[87] although Radev has insisted that his words reflected the current territorial reality, and not his view on Crimea's status within international law.[88]

In the second round, held on 21 November, Rumen Radev defeated Gerdjikov with 66% of the vote, thus securing a second term in office.[89] In his victory speech, Radev thanked those who had supported him and underlined the fact that his election proved that citizens do not wish a return of the "status-qou", despite the strong campaign for it, instead supporting a program of change.[90]

The election of Radev was hailed as a major victory by PP co-leader, Kiril Petkov, saying that "we will continue the change with President Radev".[91] Radev was also congratulated by BSP leader, Korneliya Ninova, who highlighted the overwhelming support for President Radev. Other political figures, notably Revival leader Konstadin Kostadinov[92] and GERB leader Boyko Borisov,[93] highlighted the low turnout, with this being the lowest turnout for a second round of a Presidential election since the end of Communism in 1990.

Radev officially began his second term on 22 January 2022, with the inauguration ceremony taking place in front of the "Dondukov-2" Palace- the workplace of the President. In his inauguration address, President Radev highlighted the struggle against corruption and lawlessness and promised to continue fighting against them in his new term.[94]

Relations with the Petkov government

After the 2021 November parliamentary election, Radev endorsed the formation of a "government of change".[95] This was treated as an endorsement of a government led by the recently created party PP, which was led by Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, two people who held positions in the Radev appointed First Yanev Government.

On 6 December, President Radev gave the first exploratory mandate for government formation to the leaders of PP, Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, asking them to form a "diverse", "non-personalist" cabinet.[96] The mandate was returned to the President as completed on 11 December, with the announcement of the Petkov Government. Radev underlined the "high responsibility" of the Petkov government to "reform the broken political system and fight corruption, illegality, inequality and the forces of the deep state".[97]

Despite the early support, Radev became increasingly critical of the Petkov government. On 1 February, Radev released a statement to the press in which he criticised the government's approach to North Macedonia, calling Petkov's visit to Skopje "too soon".[98] He also criticised Petkov's decision to change the board of directors of the state company "Bulgargaz", claiming it was "reminiscent of the style of governance of Boyko Borisov".[99]

Later, on 17 February, Radev quipped that "it is not enough to have good intentions- it is also important to take practical measures" when talking about the government's response to increased inflation, noting that "the new persons responsible for energy policy, appointed by the new government, have not achieved the necessary results".[100] Despite the increasingly harsh criticism from President Radev, Prime Minister Petkov continued to insist that dialogue between the two figures was "constructive".[101]

The conflict between the PM and President intensified after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with President Radev opposing the imposition of sanctions and the sending of lethal aid, while Kiril Petkov was more open to it.[102]

Radev was also critical of attempts by the government to reshuffle Bulgaria's security services. For example, after Prime Minister Petkov was attacked with snowballs during a speech on Mount Shipka for Bulgaria's Liberation day (3d March), President Radev dismissed calls to change the leadership of key security services because it was not "a breach of security".[103]

In April, the government requested that President Radev remove Gen. Emil Tonev as head of the National Security Service, which is responsible for the protection of government officials and government buildings.[104] The reasoning given was that Tonev had transferred video tapes collected by cameras at the entrances of the Government Building to the General Prosecutors office, without informing the Prime Minister. While Radev criticised the request for video tapes by the General Prosecutors Office, he refused to remove Gen. Emil Tonev from his position, citing the motivation as "surface-level and unreasonable" and accusing the Petkov government of trying to "politicise the security services".[105]

On 27 April the Russian state company Gazprom announced that it would cease deliveries to Bulgaria, after Bulgaria refused to pay in Rubles.[106] Radev criticised the government, claiming that the government's aggressive foreign policy approach, including state visits to Kyiv, imperilled energy security and led to higher inflation.[107]

On 17 June, a proposal was submitted by France which aimed to create a "framework for negotiations" between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, with Bulgaria lifting the veto on accession of North Macedonia to the European Union, in exchange for North Macedonia's government's commitment toward protecting the Bulgarian minority in North Macedonia.[108] President Radev was critical of the French proposal, and criticised the Petkov government for not "taking a clear position on it" and instead "transferring responsibility to the National Assembly".[109] Petkov, in turn, criticised Radev for not calling a Consultative Council on National Security to discuss the "French proposal"[110]

Despite his continued criticisms of the government, Radev refrained from commenting on the vote of no confidence against the Petkov government, calling it a "routine moment in a democratic society".[111] Simultaneously, Radev underlined his readiness to form a caretaker cabinet and called on MPs to "refrain from becoming political nomads".[112]

After the successful vote of no confidence, Radev began the process of government formation.

On 28 July, BSP leader Korneliya Ninova returned the third mandate, thus meaning that new elections were to be scheduled. In her statement after the return of the third mandate, Ninova claimed that Radev was "part of the group" which had removed the cabinet from power.[113]

Due to the failure of government formation, early elections were called for October, and a Caretaker Cabinet headed by Radev's social policy advisor Galab Donev was appointed.

Donev Caretaker cabinet & 48th National Assembly

On 2 August, Radev appointed a caretaker cabinet headed by Galab Donev.[114] Radev was criticised by the BSP for the appointment of BSP members, with Ninova insisting that the party will not take responsibility for their actions and that this was never attempt by Radev to meddle in the internal affairs of the party.[115] Ninova went as far as to say that the new government was "revanchist" against BSP.[116]

In his official presentation of the caretaker cabinet, Radev outlined its goals as being to rein in "the many crises facing our country" and reduce the possibility of Bulgaria's involvement in an armed conflict.[117] With the appointment of Galab Donev, Radev became the first President in Bulgarian history to appoint 3 caretaker Prime Ministers in his tenure.

The snap elections, which took place on October 3d, once again produced a fragmented parliament, with no single party being the obvious favourite in terms of government formation. Addressing the opening session of the newly elected 48th National Assembly on October 19, Radev expressed hope that it would finally bring the country out of political deadlock and form a regular cabinet, while also cautioning MPs away from entanglement in foreign wars.[118]

In the weeks following the gathering of parliament, Radev postponed the handing of the first mandate to GERB- the winning party- citing the fact that he wished to grant more time for negotiations and wished to avoid holding an early vote in the winter months.[119] Some in the media accused Radev of postponing in order to keep the Donev caretaker cabinet in power for a longer period of time.[120]

Radev handed the first mandate for government formation to GERB on 2 December, with GERB nominating neuro-seurgeon Nikolai Gabrovski, as their Prime Minister candidate.[121] The cabinet failed its investiture vote on 14 December, with Radev seeing the main reason for its failure он the fact that GERB had bet on "peoples amnesia" about their period in government, which not take place.[122] He further confirmed that he would only give the second mandate to PP after the New Year.[123]

On 14 December, Radev placed his veto on a controversial new law, which would have amended the electoral code of the country to remove the option to vote using newly-installed machine-voting systems.[124]

On 2 January, Radev gave the second mandate to PP as the second largest parliamentary group.[125] However, the second mandate was not realized, and was returned unfulfilled on 9 January, by PP Prime Ministerial candidate Nikolay Denkov. During the return, Radev advised PP to consider negotiations with GERB in order to form a regular cabinet.[126]

There was much speculation about who would receive the third mandate, with analysts most commonly mentioning the Bulgarian Socialist Party (which had received the third mandate the previous times), Bulgaria, Arise! (a party seen as close to Radev, due to its leader being the former PM of a caretaker government appointed by Radev) and Democratic Bulgaria (who had been endorsed by PP and GERB). Radev gave the third mandate to BSP on 16 January, a decision which was read by some analysts as being an indicator that Radev wished to force new elections, due to BSP's poor negotiating position, and also as part of an appeal to leftists.[127][128] After the return of the third mandate unfulfilled on 21 January, which made new elections inevitable, Radev described the third mandate as "initially doomed" due to "a lack of will from political parties to govern during a time of crisis".[129]

On 3 February 2023, Radev reappointed Donev as Caretaker Prime Minister, after the Bulgarian Parliament once again failed to form a regular government. In the presentation of the renewed caretaker cabinet, which had the same composition bar the Minister of Culture, Radev praised them for "stopping the free fall of the state", reigning in inflation and controlling energy prices, while also claiming that "the political parties will try to gain credit for the successes of the Caretaker Cabinet".[130] Radev set reducing poverty and insuring stable levels of CPI as the two main goals of the reappointed Caretaker Government.

The tenure of Galab Donev's second caretaker cabinet ended on 6 June 2023, with the election of the Denkov cabinet, during the transfer of power, Radev praised the caretaker cabinet for their ability to reign in the various crises afflicting Bulgaria, specifically by lowering fuel prices.[131]

Relations with political parties

Throughout the period of the Donev caretaker cabinet, Radev often exchanged mutual criticisms with political parties represented in the Bulgarian parliament, most commonly with PP and DB.

During government formation consultations, held in November 2022, Radev attacked DB for their support of sending lethal aid to Ukraine, claiming it was "unreasonable" to send weapons systems before rearmament.[132]

On the 4 December, PP co-leader and former Finance Minister Asen Vasiliev, accused President Radev of "regular meetings" with former Prime Minister and GERB leader, Boyko Borisov, noting the "level of coordination" between the Caretaker Cabinet and GERB.[133] Vasiliev further called Radev the "chief reason" for Bulgaria's non-ascension into the Schengen Area. In response, Radev sharply criticised Vasiliev, claiming that this "was not the first time he had lied" and expressed regret about "being the first one to be disappointed by them, having put my faith for change in these people and now I have to pay the price for my trust", claiming that "the Bulgarian people will outlive these charlatans, just as they did the autocratic model".[134]

During the election campaign for the April 2023 Bulgarian parliamentary election, BSP have consistently accused Radev of allegedly meddling in internal party affairs.[135][136] BSP sent an official complain to the OSCE and PACE alleging illegal meddling by the caretaker government and president in their internal politics, as well as the election campaign after an interview by justice minister Krum Zarkov criticising the party leadership.[137]

The PP–DB coalition also accused the president of meddling after Radev called them "the parties of war" referring to their support of sending arms to Ukraine.[138][139] Radev's statement led to key DB figures to call for his impeachment in the next parliament.[140]

During his address on 3 March, Radev criticised "those who wish to burn Bulgaria in the fires of war" and "who wish to disarm Bulgaria at a time of war, who are ready to abandon our fellow citizens near Vardar, and who wish to turn the Republic into a cheap political theater".[141]

49th National Assembly & Denkov-Gabriel government

After the parliamentary elections, held on 3 April, Radev announced his decision to convene the new 49th National Assembly on 12 April.[142]

During the opening session, Radev gave a speech calling for parties to put aside their differences and engage in dialogue in order to "leave the political crisis" and "defend our European pathway, as well as our future as a democratic society".[143]

Shortly after the convocation of the 49th National Assembly, Radev re-appointed Plamen Tonchev to a second term as head of the State Agency for National Security, to another 5-year term.[144]

In the next week, Radev held consultations with the political parties to explore avenues for government formation: during these meetings, the largest party, GERB, expressed a willingness to govern together with PPDB; however, PPDB continued to insist that they would not govern with GERB.[145] Following the consultations, Radev decided to postpone the handing of the first mandate to GERB in order to allow the parliament to pass laws- specifically in relation to the budget, EU Plan for Recovery and Sustainability, as well as Schengen.[146]

During Europe Day celebrations, Radev announced that he would hand GERB the first exploratory mandate on 15 May, with Radev also criticising the parliament for not doing enough to pass important laws.[147]

On 15 May, Radev gave the first mandate to Mariya Gabriel, wishing her luck in forming a government.[148]

On 22 May, GERB PM candidate, Mariya Gabriel, returned the first mandate to President Radev, citing the fact that an agreement was not reached in parliament.[149]

Radev was scheduled to hand the second mandate to PPDB PM candidate, Nikolay Denkov, on 29 May. A few days prior, an audio tape was leaked by MP Radostin Vasiliev, allegedly from the meeting of the PP National Council when discussing governing together with GERB. This tape seemed to insinuate that PP leaders had made a deal with Radev to win the 2021 Bulgarian general election, wished to make changes within the security services, which they claimed were controlled by "Radev's people" and suspected that Radev was planning to make a "'pro-Kremlin'" party, working together with GERB mayors.[150] Radev dismissed these accusations, highlighting that "the security services don't belong to the President, but to Bulgaria as a whole".[151]

When giving the mandate to Denkov as Prime Minister on 29 May, Radev called on Denkov to return the mandate unfulfilled because it was "discredited" due to the release of the audio tapes.[152] Radev's statement led to the organisation of protests by PPDB and other organisations outside the Presidential building calling for Radev's impeachment due to his alleged breach of his constitutional duties as well as condemning his allegedly pro-Russian views.[153]

Visiting the summit of the European Political Community on 1 June, Radev continued to criticise the proposed Denkov-Gabriel government, declaring that he did not expect "the kiss between Borisov and Petkov to produce anything but disgust, and certainly not trust or development", further claiming that the leaked audiotapes "removed the cute Euroatlanticist facade and revealed the concerning face of a rising dictatorship and fanaticism."[154]

On 5 June, Nikolay Denkov returned the second exploratory mandate completed, with Radev promising to submit the appointment of the Nikolay Denkov government to a vote by the National Assembly within the shortest time frame.[155]

The vote of investiture in Denkov's government took place on 6 June, being personally attended by President Radev, who when entering the National Assembly told the media he hoped that MPs would vote against the proposed cabinet if they "were not partisan servants", he also expressed hope that if elected the "newly elected government will not betray the national interest, just as the leaders of the political parties (PP/DB and GERB) had betrayed the interests of their voters".[156] Upon the successful investiture of the government, President Radev demonstrably left the session, citing the fact that he felt the swearing-in ceremony was turned into a "formal act" and that the government was "formed with deep compromises to the essence of democracy".[157]

Denkov-Gabriel Government

Criticism of the Denkov Government

After the successful investiture of the Denkov Government, Radev continued to criticise it throughout its tenure.

On the 23d of June, Radev criticised the government for not being cautious enough to avoid Bulgarian "involvement" in the Russia-Ukraine War, and called on the Bulgarian government to "focus more on our own army, rather than foreign ones".[158] Radev further stated that he, as the nominal commander-in-chief of the Bulgarian Armed Forces should have greater involevement in determining the foreign policy direction of the country.[159]

On 10 July, shortly after a controversial meeting with Zelensky, Radev criticised the current government's economic and foreign policy- believing that "Bulgaria should not join the Eurozone at any cost, but only when it is ready" and condemning the transfer of military aid to Ukraine.[160]

On 18 July, following protests which called for Radev's resignation in Sofia due to his alleged pro-Russian views, Radev accused the current government of "hiding behind the topic of Ukraine" and called on them to "focus on issues around Bulgaria".[161]

On 19 July, Radev criticised the current government, specifically DB co-leader, Hristo Ivanov for "betraying his values and voters" by "not just embracing the 'deep state' but serving them", he further called on the Bulgarian government to do more to "protect Bulgarian interests"- including, putting greater pressure on North Macedonia to amend its constitution to include Bulgarians and taking a clear position on the recently updated Myrotvorets list which included Bulgarian politicians.[162] Radev also condemned plans by the current government to end the concession of the refinery "Rosenets" to the Russian state-owned oil company "Lukoil", calling the announced plans "either in service of corporate appetites or crisis-PR", further stating that any decision about the concession at Rosenets must take place after an analysis of impacts it may have on the price of oil in Bulgaria.[163]

On 26 July, with the release of proposed constitutional amendments by the PPDB parliamentary group, Radev released a statement describing the proposed amendments as "legally illeterate and politically untenable"- specifically criticising the "attack on local government institutions and the presidency", as well as the change of the "National Holiday", from the 3d of March (Liberation Day) to 24 May (Day of Englightment and the National Language).[164] Two days later, Radev's Vice President, Iliana Iotova, confirmed that Radev would submit his own proposed changes to the constitution- however, Radev's proposal for constitutional amendments was not submitted to the National Assembly before the Constitutional Changes submitted by the Denkov government were approved by the parliament in December, 2023.[165]

After a joint project for constitutional changes was submitted by the PPDB, DPS, GERB-SDS parliamentary groups, Radev called it "a part of an offensive against democracy".[166]

In a statement to the media, following his speech on Mount Shipka, Radev commented the recent assassination of Bulgarian businessman Aleksei Petrov accused the government of "trying to use its failures in order to gain more power" and dismissed the idea of holding a "Consultative Council of National Security" due to the presence of "people from the tapes and their allies in the dark".[167]

On 24 August, Radev received a request from the Minister of Interior, Kalin Stoyanov, to remove the Secretary of the Minister of Interior, Petar Todorov. Radev refused to sign the dismissal, calling the motivations for Todorov's dismissal to be "contradicted by evidence from the Ministry of Interior statistics" and "part of a wide-scale purge within the state institutions".[168] On 30 August, Radev submitted an official rejection of Stoyanov's request to remove Petar Todorov,[169] however, Todorov ended up resigning only a few hours later.[170]

On 27 August, Radev responded to statements made by PP co-leader Kiril Petkov who demanded that GERB leader Boyko Borisov "choose whether he wishes to work with the President or to reform the security services", by claiming that "it is he- not I- who is in coalition with Mr. Borisov and Mr. Peevski", further lamenting that "in this situation logic seems to disappear more and more often".[171]

During a visit to the village of Nedelino, on 1 September, Radev claimed that Borisov's recent admission that assassinated businessman Petrov had a role in the formation of the Denkov government as "an admission that the country is governed by the 'deep state'", he further claimed that the government was attempting to "kidnap the constitution".[172]

On 11 September, following an announcement by PPDB of their intention to remove most of the current security chiefs within the country, Radev criticised such statements noting that "reforming the security services doesn't just mean putting 'your people' in place".[173]

After the revelation that at least three priests of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bulgaria were working as spies, Radev defended the work of DANS against criticism of PPDB and refused to allow for the removal of its current chief.[174]

On 18 October, during the Day of Bulgarian Aviation, Radev accused the government of ruling with intent to carry out authoritarianism and denied accusations that he had "declared war" on the government, instead claiming they had started a campaign against him.[175] Radev further accused the government of trying to secretly sell the oil refinery in Burgas.[176]

After the local elections, Radev refused to dismiss the Chief of DANS, who the government claimed had authorised the release of misleading report made by one of his deputies which undermined trust in the electoral system.[177]

Radev further criticised the government's decision to impose the tax on Gazprom, pointing out the fact that it led to a negative reaction by Hungary's government.[178]

Radev condemned the planned removal of the Monument to the Soviet Army, Sofia, calling it an "agressive offensive against statehood, history and memory".[179]

Before leaving on a two-day trip to the Republic of Kosovo, on December 22, Radev discussed the recently approved constitutional changes, criticing PPDB for "only recently claiming Borisov and Peevski are involved in corruption and in the 'deep state' but now they govern together. Rape the constitution together... The smell is so bad it now reaches even those, who only look for one reason to obstruct our entrance into the Schengen", further claiming that the government must insure a clear time frame for Bulgaria's entrance into the Schengen Area is provided before 2024.[180]

During the traditional New Years Adress, Radev lamented that the future development of Bulgaria as a "free European democracy" was impossible in an atmosphere of "war with national symbols and historical memory", "political hypocrisy" and "tolerance for corruption".[181]

While inspecting the Bulgarian Armed Forces on 6 January, Radev lamented that "entering 2024 we come with mixed feeling after a year of half-measures" and claimed that 2024 will be "the year of choices", not just for the EU Parliament, but "for Bulgaria's future".[182]

'Mount Shipka' Speech & 3d of March movement

As part of the celebration dedicated to the 100 year anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising, Radev gave a speech on top of Mount Shipka on 19 August. In the address, Radev accused the current political class of attempting to "erase" Bulgarian historical memory, due to "their false belief that to be European we must reject the fact we are Bulgarians".[183] He further accused the Bulgarian government of carrying out "subtle censorship, snitching, forgery and scandals, which are being brought forth by the proposed constitutional amendments". Radev announced that "3d of March is the red line of our patience"- in reference to the governments plans to change the National Holiday from the 3d of March to 24 May. He went on to declare that "today we put an end to the countdown, to the dissolution and declare that Bulgaria will remain a Republic of equal and free citizens". Throughout the speech, Radev referred to a "peoples movement"- specifically, in his final line he declared that "the peoples movement will defend the 3d of March".[184]

A number of political analysts at the time speculated that this meant the beginning of Radev's open participation in Bulgarian electoral politics.[185][186][187]

Such speculation intensified after the creation of an initiative committee to hold a referendum for the preservation of Third of March as the national holiday, which was joined by a number of people close to the President, including Presidential adviser, Alexander Marinov.[188]

However, organisers of the committee, including MEP Petar Vitanov, insisted that at the time of its formation (September 2023) the initiative committee did not involve the President and was not intended as the basis for a future political party.[189]

Veto and court challenges of laws

Оn 14 June, Radev vetoed the recently passed "Law on the Judicial Power", which would have separated the investigative branch from the competency of the General Prosecutor, citing the fact that such a system had existed prior to 2009 and was replaced in order to adhere to EU norms.[190] The veto was supported by the parliament, with the law being therefore withdrawn.[191]

On 11 July, Radev submitted an official complaint to the Constitutional Court wherein he disputed the appointment of, Goritsa Grancharova-Kozhareva, as Acting Chief of the Chamber of Audit, citing to the fact that the previous chiefs, Tsvetkov's, dismissal by the National Assembly had been deemed illegal by the Constitutional Court in a previous ruling.[192] The Constitutional Court ruled in Radev's favour, invalidating all acts made my the Chamber of Audit during her time as Acting Chief.[193]

On 1 August, Radev put a veto on the amendments to the "Law on Judicial Powers", motivating his veto by claiming that the new changes would be overly disruptive to the newly created process of investigating the General Prosecutor.[194] The veto was overturned by the National Assembly.

On 4 August, Radev submitted a challenge to the legality of the decision to cease the concession of the oil refinery at "Rosenets" before the Constitutional Court, citing irregularities within the law and a lack of clarity about how the refinery was to be managed.[195]

In October, Radev challenged two more laws in the Constitutional Court. He challenged the "Law on the Preservation of Agricultural Land", due to its enabling of expanded construction of renewable energy sources on high productivity agricultural land.[196] He also challenged the decision of the government to impose a tax on gas passing through the Gazprom pipelines located in Bulgaria, on the grounds it violated the right to private property.[197] Radev's decision to challenge the tax led to criticism from PM Denkov, and his finance ministre, Asen Vasiliev, who accused him of serving Russian interests by challenging the tax.[198]

Radev also vetoed the newly passed "Energy Law", citing the fact that the liberalization of the energy market would negatively impact Bulgarian lower-income consumers.[199] The veto ended up being overturned by the parliament on 10 November.

On 4 December, Radev vetoed the transfer of 100 Bulgarian APCs to Ukraine, claiming that they could be used by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior in cases of natural emergencies and to protect the border with Turkey.[200] The veto was overturned by the parliament on December 8.

During the work on the budget for 2024, Radev threatened to veto it due to it incurring new debts and potentially involving the alleged sale of public land.[201]

Upon the passing of the constitutional changes proposed by the government on December 20, President Radev promised to challenge them before the Constitutional Court, claiming that the changes would "undermine the democracy, legality and sovereignty of the state".[202]

On the 8th of January, 2024, Radev officially submitted his challenge of the Constitutional Amendments to the Constitutional Court, which focused on three major areas within the new constitutional changes: the alleged changes within the balance of powers which could only be authorised by a Grand National Assembly, alleged contradictions with other sections of the constitution, the alleged non-compliance with the time-frame for the debate of constitutional amendments set by the Constitution.[203]

On the 23d of January, 2024, Radev submitted his challenge of the election of two new Justice by the National Assembly to fill the vacancies within the Constitutional Court, claiming that their election violated the constitution by not following the proper procedures and not being transparent enough.[204]

Impeachment rumours

On 22 July, PP MP, Venko Sabrutev, stated that "if the President continues to sow discord within our nation ... we will have no choice but to begin impeachment proceedings".[205] Another PP MP, Yavor Bozhankov, did not exclude the possibility of Radev's impeachment due to his alleged misconduct as President.[206]

Removal of General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev

Despite being seen as opponents, President Radev condemned the alleged assassination of General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev on 1 May as "an attack against Bulgarian institutions".[207]

As divisions appeared within the Prosecutors Office, Radev refused to comment. Radev responded with scepticism to calls by GERB PM-Candidate, Mariya Gabriel, for the removal of Ivan Geshev, citing the fact that those nominated by GERB in the Supreme Judicial Council had previously voted in favour of Geshev.[208]

On 18 May, Radev reiterated his position that Ivan Geshev should resign; however, he pointed out that the problems within Bulgaria's judicial system were not the responsibility of a single person.[209]

Some media outlets accused Radev of attempting to "save" Geshev, by not signing a newly passed law which would have lowered the number of votes needed to remove the General Prosecutor a few days before the vote on Geshev's future was to take place.[210]

Despite some speculation, however, Radev was quick to sign into law the removal of Ivan Geshev from his position as General Prosecutor on 15 June, only a few days after the vote passed within the Supreme Judicial Council.[211]

A few days after the removal of Ivan Geshev, and the speedy emplacement of his deputy, Borislav Serafov as Acting General Prosecutor, Radev claimed that the political parties "planned to put their own man as General Prosecutor" and called on civil society to "keep tracking and exercise control over the activities of the General Prosecutor".[212]

Foreign policy

Relations with Russia & Views on Russia-Ukraine War

Radev with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, 22 May 2018

In February 2017, Radev condemned and called for an end to the EU sanctions against Russia, while at the same time describing the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation as a "violation of international law".[213]

In April 2022, Radev broke ranks with the Petkov Government, declaring that he is fully opposed to Bulgaria providing weapons to Ukraine in relation to Russia's invasion of the latter, characterizing it as a step towards the direct involvement of Bulgaria in the conflict and seeing it as contrary to the pursuit of a peaceful solution.[214] On 23 September 2022, Radev came out with what has been described as "his strongest statement yet on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict", calling the Russian organised referendums "unacceptable" and denouncing the use of "'the nuclear card'" by the Russian leadership.[215]

On 2 October 2022, Radev refused to sign a declaration produced by other Eastern and Central European Presidents, which endorsed future Ukrainian ascension into NATO, citing the fact that discussions of Ukrainian membership were "too early" and had to involve collective decisions by NATO structures.[216] Upon returning to Bulgaria from the NATO summit on 7 October, Radev reiterated his position that discussing Ukrainian ascension into NATO was too early, and further underlined his opposition to the provision of military aid to Ukraine.[217]

During the December 2022 EU summit to discuss the new sanctions package, Radev threatened to veto it, if it included sanctions on the export of nuclear fuel, and further called on fellow EU leaders to begin to "refocus" their work towards achieving a ceasefire in the Ukrainian conflict.[218]

In February 2023, Radev signed a joint-declaration with the Presidents of 9 other Eastern and Central European countries which condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine.[219] At the same time, Radev reiterated his opposition to the sending of lethal aid to Ukraine, including at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban on 2 February.[220]

During the March 2023 EU summit to discuss the procurement of 1 million shells for Ukraine within a year, Radev insisted that Bulgaria would not participate in it, and further claimed he would ensure that Bulgarian ammunition sold to third parties was not sent to Ukraine.[221] Despite this opposition, Radev ended up supporting the European Council resolution which included the provision of ammunition to Ukraine.[222]

In July 2023, President Radev met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as part of his visit to Bulgaria on 6 July. During the meeting, President Radev expressed sympathy for Ukraine, particularly due to the high human cost, however Radev also claimed that the war has "no military solution" and called for Ukraine to open negotiations with Russia in order to "deescalate".[223] From his end, Zelensky criticised Radev's use of the word "conflict", instead of "war", as it gave credence to the idea of two equal parties – pointing out Russia's status as an aggressor-state and the fact that only Russia could be responsible for de-escalation. Zelensky further criticised Radev for his stance on the provision of military aid, noting that Ukraine and the nations of the European Union had a shared interest in restraining Russia in Ukraine. In the aftermath of the meeting, Radev was criticised by the Denkov government, as well as Ukrainian and international media, for reiterating Russian talking points.[224][225] Radev, in turn, criticised the government for "not consulting him" before inviting President Zelensky, as well as not putting the national interest of Bulgaria first.[226]

On 14 July, President Radev claimed that "Ukraine insists on the continuation of this war, but lets be clear, the bill is paid by the whole of Europe", further calling on the Bulgarian government to adopt an independent foreign policy and cease increased lethal aid for Ukraine.[227]

During his speech to the UN Annual Global Summit, Radev condemned "the Russian agression against Ukraine", and further called for the 78th annual session of the UN to work towards "finding peaceful avenues to the resolution of the crisis".[228]

In September 2023, Radev was accused by some media outlets of avoiding a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky during the annual UN conference in New York.[229]

Relations with Turkey

On 17 March 2017, Radev condemned as 'absolutely unacceptable' what he described as a Turkish intervention in Bulgaria's 2017 parliamentary election after the Turkish ambassador to Bulgaria was found to have appeared in a campaign clip for one of Bulgaria's political parties and after Turkish Social Affairs minister was found to have agitated and offer incentives for Bulgarian Turks in Turkey to cross the border in an organized voting campaign and vote for the same party. Radev stated that he had referred the matter to the European Union.[230] He met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan several months later in July, following which he described Turkey as an "important neighbour, partner and ally", while at the same time stating that this status hinged on Turkey's respect for Bulgaria's "internal political process, regarding Bulgaria's political parties and electoral system". He also became the only EU head of state to attend Erdogan's inauguration, stating that his mandate was not given to him by either the European Commission or the Bulgarian Government, but by the Bulgarian people.[231]

On 24 January 2018, Radev condemned the Turkish invasion of northern Syria aimed at ousting U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds from the enclave of Afrin, and insisted that the European Union should intervene to stop it.[232][233]

During the campaign for the Bulgarian legislative elections in 2021, Radev accused Erdogan of meddling with Bulgaria's internal affairs after participating in a video-conference with Bulgarian political party, DPS.[234]

In December 2022, Radev visited Turkish President Erdogan, achieving a deal to enhance border security and increase cooperation in the energy sector.[235]

On 29 May 2023, Radev congratulated Erdogan with his re-election after the 2023 Turkish Presidential Election,[236] and later attended his inauguration, being the only European Union head of state to do so.[237] During the inauguration, Radev and Erdogan had a short meeting, during which Radev underlined the progress being made in economic relations between the two countries, particularly focusing on the recently signed agreement with Turkish gas company, Botas.[238]

Relations with North Macedonia

Radev with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, 4 December 2017
Radev with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade, 21 June 2018

Rumen Radev has been critical of the EU accession of the Republic of North Macedonia.[239] Radev has opposed the possibility of lifting the veto on North Macedonia's Eurointegration, at the very least until Bulgarians are added to the Constitution of North Macedonia.[240] Radev has also asked for increased European Union-level action to prevent hate speech against Bulgarians living in North Macedonia.[241]

Response to the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel

On the day of the attack by Hamas on Israel, Radev made a statement on X condemning the Hamas-led attack on Israel and expressing solidarity with Israel.[242]

On 11 October, Radev held a national security meeting with the cabinet and representatives of the security apparatus, which excluded members of parliament, as in a traditional Consulative Council for National Security.[243]

Following this meeting, Radev and the Prime Minister, Denkov, came out with a joint-press briefing, at which Radev declared there was no imminent national security risk due to the Hamas-led attack, although the risk of migrant pressure on the border with Turkey, as well as possible infiltration by terrorist groups had increased.[244]

Radev participated in a "prayer for peace" within the Cental Sofia Synagogue, together with many other Bulgarian politicians, expressing disgust at "the cruel and violent acts committed by the terrorists" and solidarity with Israel.[245]

Other Foreign Policy activities

In April 2018, he criticised the 2018 missile strikes against Syria, instead calling for "less weapons and more dialogue".[246][247]

In February 2019, Radev condemned the Bulgarian Government's recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela during the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, adding that he believed the government had overstepped its authority in recognizing the opposition leader as interim president. Radev further criticised the EU's recognition of Guaido, urging both the country and the EU to remain neutral and refrain from recognizing Guaido, as he viewed such recognition as imposing an ultimatum, which he deemed would only aggravate the crisis in Venezuela.[248][249]

Radev has been very critical of the positions of Austria and the Netherlands, who in December 2022 announced they would veto the ascension of Bulgaria into the Schengen Area, calling the decision "cynical" and in contrast with the concept of European solidarity.[250] During an EU summit on 15 December 2022, Radev called on EU leaders to give a clear time table for Bulgaria's membership in the Schengen Area before the end of 2023, stating that Schengen membership was critical to "Bulgarian dignity as part of the European family".[251] Radev further continued to insist that there were no valid reasons for Bulgaria's non-ascension into the Schengen Area, citing a 2011 European Commission Report which found Bulgaria ready to join the Schengen Area.[252]

Approval ratings

Radev has enjoyed positive approval ratings for the vast majority of his presidency. Having been elected with around 60% of the vote in the autumn 2016 election, he managed to keep that figure as his approval rating through to 2018.[253]

His approval then rose to 67% by May 2018,[254] before falling to around 56% by autumn 2019. It is noteworthy, however, that even after this fall in his popularity, he was still considered the most popular and approved of Bulgarian politician, as well as one of the only two Bulgarian politicians (the other being Maya Manolova) with a higher percentage of approval than disapproval.[255][256][257]

By April 2020, Radev's approval ratings stood at about 49%.[258] Radev began his second term as president with an approval rating of 58.5%, according to a Gallup poll.[259]

Radev has declined in popularity in opinion polls, with Radev's approval rating reaching its lowest point of 33% in an Alpha Research poll in June 2023.[260]

Family and personal life

Radev joined the Bulgarian Communist Party in the 1980s. He later stated that his primary reason for joining the party had been so that he would be deployed to fly in a supersonic jet, but also added that he was not ashamed of his past and was proud of the things he did. He left the party in 1990, when a newly enacted law forbade members of the country's armed forces from being members of political parties.[261][262] He has not been a member of any political parties since and his candidacy in the 2016 elections was supported by an independent initiative committee affiliated with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, rather than by a formal nomination by any party.[263]

Radev has two children from his first marriage to Ginka Radeva, which ended in a divorce in 2014: a daughter Darina, born in 2001 and a son Georgi, born in 2003. He later married Desislava Gencheva, who was previously married to the BSP MP Georgi Svilenski. Apart from Bulgarian, Radev is also fluent in Russian, German and English.[264] Radev's father died on 6 April 2020.[265]

Radev is a member of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.[266] He stated his support for the efforts of the Bulgarian church to introduce religious education in Bulgarian schools and declared that "the support of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the spiritual well-being of the faithful remains the first priority for the State".[267][268] Radev also expressed his admiration for Pope Francis, calling him "the voice of the weak and the underprivileged".[269]

Military career

Radev with U.S. Air Force Gen. Frank Gorenc in Bulgaria

Flight information

Military ranks


Rumen Radev was awarded numerous medals and prizes, including the sign "For loyal service under the flags" – III degree, and Honorary sign of the Ministry of Defence "Saint George" – II degree.[1]


National honours

Foreign honours


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  207. ^ "България днес – 2 май 2023 г." BNR (in Bulgarian). 2 May 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
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  210. ^ "Румен Радев "даде рамо" на Иван Гешев преди заседанието на ВСС". Fakti (in Bulgarian). 30 May 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
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  212. ^ "Радев: Партиите искат свой човек за главен прокурор". Vesti (in Bulgarian). 20 June 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  213. ^ "Радев повтори: Санкциите срещу Русия не помагат, само вредят". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 3 January 2020.
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  215. ^ "Радев всъщност играе в полза на Русия". Deutsche Welle. 24 September 2022. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  216. ^ "Радев се обяви срещу присъединяването на Украйна към НАТО". Mediapool. 3 October 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  217. ^ "Радев твърдо против оръжия за Украйна и подкрепа за членството й в НАТО". Mediapool. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
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  221. ^ ""Ясен ли съм?" Радев поиска снаряди от България да не стигат до Украйна през трети страни". SvobodnaEvropa. 23 March 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
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  223. ^ "Зеленски се срещна с Радев, какво си казаха". 6 July 2023. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  224. ^ "Bulgarian president blames Ukraine for war, prime minister hits back". The Kyiv Independent. 16 July 2023. Retrieved 17 July 2023.
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  227. ^ "Радев: Украйна настоява да води тази война". BTV. 14 July 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  228. ^ "Румен Радев пред ООН: Бъдещето на цивилизацията ни е застрашено". Novini. 20 September 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
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  230. ^ "Румен Радев: Намесата на Турция е абсолютно недопустима". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 3 January 2020.
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  233. ^ "Bulgaristan'dan AB'ye: Afrin'e acil müdahale edin". Arti Gerçek. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
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  236. ^ "Румен Радев поздрави Реджеп Ердоган за преизбирането му за президент на Турция". Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  237. ^ "Президент Радев будет присутствовать в Анкаре на церемонии инаугурации Эрдогана". Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  238. ^ "Радев се ръкува с Ердоган, разкри съвместни планове с Турция (СНИМКИ)". Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  239. ^ "Румен Радев: РСМ е в състояние на вето - докато не впише българите в Конституцията си, няма ЕС". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2 September 2023.
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  241. ^ "Румен Радев от Брюксел за РСМ: В момента сме в състояние на вето". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  242. ^ "Денков и Радев осъдиха атаките на "Хамас" над Израел". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  243. ^ "Румен Радев свиква не КСНС, а консултативна среща". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 20 December 2023.
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  245. ^ "Румен Радев: Сцените на брутална жестокост и насилие отприщиха вълна от гняв и възмущение по целия свят (Обновена)". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 20 December 2023.
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  248. ^ "Радев поиска България да не подкрепя опозицията във Венецуела". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 21 August 2019.
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  250. ^ "Радев за Шенген: Вместо европейска солидарност, получаваме цинизъм". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  251. ^ "България настоява за точен срок за приемане в Шенген през октомври". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  252. ^ "Радев: Няма никаква икономическа и политическа логика България и Румъния да бъдат извън Шенген". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 19 December 2023.
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  262. ^ "Бил ли е Румен Радев член на БКП?". (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 20 April 2020.
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  267. ^ "Кандидат-президентът Румен Радев се обяви за въвеждане на религиозно образование". (in Bulgarian). 11 November 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2023.
  268. ^ "Metropolitan of Philippopolis: Bulgarian schools should include religious classes". 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2023.
  269. ^ "Head of state Rumen Radev: Pope Francis acknowledges that the Bulgarian people are the guardian and disseminator of the work of the saintly brothers Cyril and Methodius". 26 May 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2023.
  270. ^ – Bulgarian Air Force
  271. ^ – Flight Video & Photo
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Political offices Preceded byRosen Plevneliev President of Bulgaria 2017–present Incumbent