Rumen Radev

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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/serviceBulgarian 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[edit]

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 this 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[edit]

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 airforce 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

On January 12th, 2021, Radev signed the election law, scheduling the next regular Bulgarian elections for April 4th.[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 the 19th of 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 a "architect" of future governments.[59]

After the failure of government formation, Radev announced the formation of a Caretaker Cabinet on the 11th of May, headed by his secretary of defense, Stefan Yanev, until new legislative elections were held on the 11th of 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 the 13th of 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[edit]

On the 1st of 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 the 20th of 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 the 17th of 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 the 14th of 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 charectarised 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 the 21st of 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 the 22nd of January, 2022, with the inauguration ceremony taking place in front of the "Dondukov-2" Palace- the workplace of the President. In his inauguration adress, 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[edit]

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 the 6th of 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 the 11th of 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 February 1st, 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 the 17th of 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 snow balls 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 the 27th of 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 the 17th of 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 the 28th of 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[edit]

On the 2nd of 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.

Allegations of meddling in politics[edit]

Foreign policy[edit]

Radev with 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".[118]

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.[119] 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.[120]

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.[121][122]

Radev with his wife Desislava Radeva

In April 2018, he criticised the 2018 missile strikes against Syria, instead calling for "less weapons and more dialogue".[123][124]

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.[125][126]

Rumen Radev has been critical of the EU accession of the Republic of North Macedonia.[127] 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.[128] Radev has also asked for increased European Union-level action to prevent hate speech against Bulgarians living in North Macedonia.[129]

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.[130] In July 2023, he blamed Ukraine itself for the war waged against it by Russia.[131]

Approval ratings[edit]

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.[132]

His approval then rose to 67% by May 2018,[133] 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.[134][135][136]

By April 2020, Radev's approval ratings stood at about 49%.[137] Radev began his second term as president with an approval rating of 58.5%, according to a Gallup poll.[138]

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.[139]

Family and personal life[edit]

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.[140][141] 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.[142]

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.[143] Radev's father died on 6 April 2020.[144]

Radev is a member of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.[145] 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".[146][147] Radev also expressed his admiration for Pope Francis, calling him "the voice of the weak and the underprivileged".[148]

Military career[edit]

Radev with U.S. Air Force Gen. Frank Gorenc in Bulgaria
  • 1987 – 1989: Junior pilot in the 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment – Ravnets
  • 1989 – 1992: Unit deputy commander at the 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment – Ravnets
  • 1992 – 1997: Unit commander at the 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment – Ravnets
  • 1997 – 1999: MiG-29 squadron commander at the Fifth Fighter Airbase – Ravnets
  • 1999 – 2000: Deputy commander for flight preparation at the Fifth Fighter Airbase – Ravnets
  • 2000: Deputy commander for flight training at the Third Fighter Airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2000 – Study of the Air defence of the Republic of Bulgaria – NATO, Brussels
  • 2000 – 2002: Chief of Staff of the Third Fighter Airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2002 – 2004: Chief of Staff of the Third Fighter Airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2004 – 2009: Commander of the Third Fighter Airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2009 – 2014: Bulgarian Air Force deputy commander
  • 2014 – 2017: Bulgarian Air Force commander
    Radev in 2012

Flight information[edit]

Military ranks[edit]

  • 1987 – Lieutenant
  • 1989 – Senior lieutenant
  • 1994 – Captain
  • 1997 – Major
  • 1999 – Lieutenant colonel
  • 2002 – Colonel
  • 2007 – Brigadier general
  • 2014 – Major general
  • 2017 – General (Commander-In-Chief)


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[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b c ((bg)) Major General Rumen Radev // Department of Defence. Retrieved 11 August 2016
  2. ^ a b BSP elected Gen. Radev as a presidential candidate with 99 votes, Bulgarian National Radio, Radio "Sofia", 17 August 2016
  3. ^ "Socialist ally Rumen Radev wins Bulgaria presidency: exit polls | Reuters". Reuters. 13 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Pro-Russia candidate wins Bulgaria's presidential run-off". 13 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Bulgaria Faces Uncertainty After Election Of Pro-Russia President". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 13 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b Tsolova, Tsvetelia (21 November 2021). "Bulgarian President Radev wins second term on anti-corruption ticket". Reuters. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Bulgaria votes in presidential runoff amid anti-corruption agenda". Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  8. ^ BSP officially nominated gen. Rumen Radev for the presidential elections, "Dnevnik", 17 August 2016
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  149. ^ – Bulgarian Air Force
  150. ^ – Flight Video & Photo
  151. ^ "Il Gran Maestro dell'Ordine di Malta in Visita di Stato nella Repubblica di Bulgaria". YouTube.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of Bulgaria