The Soviet Republic of Vidin (often simply called Vidin) was the self-declared Communist-dictatorship successor state to the People's Republic of Bulgaria, based around the city of Vidin in Northwestern Bulgaria, near the Romanian survivor state of Transylvania. With the end of the Rhodope-Vidin War its territory has come under the control of Rhodope, though some members of its armed forces continue to resist from Serbia.
Vidin emerged at the place of an old Celtic settlement known as Dunonia. The settlement evolved into an Roman fortified town called Bononia. The town grew into one of the important centers of the province of Upper Moesia, encompassing the territory of modern northwestern Bulgaria and eastern Serbia. Roman rule lasted until 46 AD. At the decline of the empire, the Goths, Huns, Bulgars, and Avars invaded. The Bulgars, who crossed the Danube from the north in 679, took control of the region. In 865, the area adopted Orthodox Christianity. The Bulgars twice conquered most of the Balkan peninsula between 893 and 1280.
In the Middle Ages Vidin used to be an important Bulgarian city. In 1003 it was seized by Basil II after an eight month siege because of the betrayal of the local bishop. From the mid 13th century onwards it was ruled by the Shishman family. In 1356, Tsar Ivan Alexander isolated Vidin from the Bulgarian monarchy and appointed his son Ivan Stratsimir as absolute ruler of Vidin's new city-state - the Tsardom of Vidin. In 1365, it was occupied by Magyar crusaders. The Hungarian occupation was short-lived, and in 1369, a united Slavic Bulgarian empire drove out the Hungarian military, but in 1393 the whole of Bulgaria, along with the rest of the surrounding region, fell to the Ottoman Empire. This brought an end to Bulgaria's medieval state empire.
Vidin's independence did not last long. In 1396, Stratsimir contributed soldiers to assist the Slavic nations' bid to overturn the Ottoman Empire. Following defeat at the hands of the Ottomans outside the city of Nicopolis, Vidin finally fell under the sphere of the Ottomans as a punishment for their role in the hostilities. Ottoman rule was harsh and inescapable and it would remain part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878, when Russia forced the Turks to give Bulgaria its independence. But the European powers, fearing Russia's and Bulgaria's dominance in the Balkans, intervened at the Congress of Berlin, limiting Bulgaria's territory and fashioning it into a small principality ruled by Alexander of Battenburg. In the late years of Ottoman rule, Vidin was also the centre of Turkish rebel Osman Pazvantoğlu's breakaway state.
During the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885, the town was besieged by a Serbian army. Although vastly outnumbered, the Bulgarians defeated the enemy who suffered a humiliating defeat. In the First Balkan War, Bulgaria and the other members of the Balkan League fought against Turkey to regain Balkan territory. Angered by the small portion of Macedonia it received after the battle the country instigated the Second Balkan War against Turkey as well as its former allies, losing badly. Bulgaria joined Germany in World War I in the hope of again gaining Macedonia. After this second failure, Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son. Boris III squandered Bulgaria's resources and assumed dictatorial powers in 1934–1935. Bulgaria fought on the side of the Nazis in World War II, but after Russia declared war on Bulgaria on Sept. 5, 1944, Bulgaria switched sides. Three days later, a Communist-dominated coalition took control of the country.
The Communist party increased its membership from 15,000 to 250,000 during the following six months. However, Bulgaria did not become a people's republic until 1946. It came under the Soviet sphere of influence, with Georgi Dimitrov as the foremost Bulgarian political leader. The country then installed a Soviet-type planned economy. By the mid 1950s standards of living rose significantly, and in 1957 collective farm workers benefited from the first agricultural pension and welfare system in Eastern Europe. Todor Zhivkov dominated the politics of the country from 1956 to Doomsday, thus becoming one of the most established Warsaw Pact leaders. Zhivkov asserted Bulgaria's position as the most reliable Soviet ally, and increased its overall importance in the Comecon.
The nation of Bulgaria was crippled by nuclear strikes on the following cities:
- Burgas, a major city and the largest port in Bulgaria, along with a minor naval base.
- Plovdiv,the second largest city in Bulgaria and a center of heavy industry.
- Rousse, the location of the only Danube bridge along the Romania-Bulgaria border and the largest port along the river in this region.
- Sofia, the capital.
- Varna, the headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy, a major port and city, and a minor soviet naval base.
- Yambol, destroyed in a strike on the nearby large air base.
It was also affected by the strikes on Edirne in Turkey, Thessaloniki in Greece, Belgrade in Yugoslavia, and the cities of Bucharest and Constanta in Romania. In the aftermath of the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1985, the area around Vidin received refugees as well.
Several figures in the Bulgarian government were able to flee northward from the capital after receiving warning about the impending strikes, and had just barely managed to get out of the death zone in time, led by a member of the State Council, one Georgi Atanasov, when the blast of an American ICBM leveled Sofia. They would continue northward, fleeing what they believed to be the area where radiation would be deadly, in the direction of the Carpathians, where they believed that they would be safe from it. They arrived in Vidin in mid-November, 1983. With no answers from a higher authority - and the destruction of Sofia that they had observed high on their minds - a provisional government was declared on December 4th, 1983.
Over the next few months, a large number of refugees stumbled into Vidin from the rest of Bulgaria - and even some from Romania as well, some of whom brought tentative information of a government that had been set up in the Transylvania region of Romania. Feelers were sent out by the Vidin government in that direction, and some diplomatic exchanges were made between the two. The government itself managed to gain some measure of control over all of Vidin province as well.
In 1985, the Yugoslavian government collapsed in a rather spectacular amount of warfare and fighting, sending refugees from both the Belgrade strike - who had already fled once - and the warfare scattering in all directions. Some of these refugees went in the direction of Vidin, having heard of a survivor state from the attacks in Bulgaria existing there, and hoping to find refuge there.
They could not have been more wrong - on arrival, only Bulgarians (to keep the locals happy), Soviets, those with skills, and anyone that they deemed to be "real Communists," along with their families, which was very few people. The rest of the refugees - more than three quarters of them - should have just been turned away, like was happening elsewhere. However, in Vidin the leadership went out of their way to order them put to death. There was hangings, and some shootings, for days at a time, until the horror stories finally convinced people to stay far, far away.
However, these refugees still managed to cause extreme discomfort and damage to the Vidin area - the flow of refugees did not stop until late 1987, and even then the government would have to fix the area up for years thereafter.
In early March of 1988, the Vidin government was extremely surprised when a company of Soviet troops, reinforced by what stragglers they had managed to find on the way across Bulgaria from their bases in the Budjak region of the former Ukraine, arrived at the Vidin border. Relieved to find an island of normalcy, they quickly attached themselves to the government, who warmly welcomed them. This would be the last mistake that they would make.
Slowly, the Soviet troops began to notice things present in the government that they could not, and would not, tolerate for long. Namely, that they were in contact with the democratic Transylvanians and allowed passage between the two states quite freely. However, they were not impressed with the actions of the government officials in general, either - especially when they would not reverse the policies in place that the Soviets were opposed to.
This particular company was headed by a major - and an extremely hard-line Communist one, at that - who had surrounded himself with like-minded individuals, and this included the rank-and-file of the unit. These officers held a secret meeting in their barracks, where they decided to take control of the state themselves. Over the next week, they would feel out the more radical of the Communists that were present in the city - as well as those holding similar views in the army. With the backing of these allies - or at least their neutrality - they made their move.
On April 17th, 1988, the Soviets made their move. With a small number of soldiers, they broke into the government headquarters as it was meeting there. There, they proceeded to hold the officials against their will, making demands. Those that refused to go along with them were shot. The remainder who had went along at gunpoint were then forced to accept the dominance of the major over them - but they were to continue to be the public face of the government, and would retain their positions, as puppets. Those who had regrettably been shot would be replaced by Soviet officers.
The major put through several major changes. the republic was renamed the "Soviet Republic of Vidin", in recognition of both their insane declaration that Bulgaria was now a part of the Soviet Union, and their current situation as the mere government of Vidin, not all of Bulgaria. Any dissenters were now to be taken and executed, and any who disagreed with the major and his troops - which now included hard-line Bulgarians as well - would be killed.
The next morning, April 18th, Atanasov read aloud a declaration to the crowd gathered in the main square of Vidin, which basically told them the new rules that they would live under - all thought up by the major and his staff - which would be enforced by the the Army - now led by the Soviets - which had due to timely Soviet intervention fought off a bunch of "capitalist" rebels who had tried to eliminate the government, though several had died before they were put down.
While the effects of the coup were not known immediately, idiotic demands made by the government after this point that the Transylvania government return the "rightful" government to power - obviously, a Communist one like themselves - made relations impossible and the Transylvanians cut off relations shortly thereafter. At the same time, they would refuse to have anything at all to do with the Yugoslavian government because they were not "true Communists."
In January of 1991, a small band of bedraggled and frostbitten men approached Vidin border outposts from the southeast. To the great surprise of the men stationed there, these horrible souls were actually Soviet troops who had survived some great skirmish with capitalist forces somewhere near the Greek border south of the ruins of Plovdiv. These soldiers were quickly taken in and fed, being Soviet troops, and hearing what they had to say the government was alarmed, but not too worried since it had been so far away.
Expeditions would be sent south and east, in the hopes of gaining resources and artifacts over the next few years, while the officers furthered the city-state into a police state. They did find the nuclear power plant at Kozloduy intact, though inoperable due to its age. The plant would be looted of anything valuable, and the loot sent back to Vidin - where the Soviet troops and their Bulgarian stooges would line their homes and offices with them.
An encounter in Southern Serbia in late 1995 with Macedonian troops did lead to the leaders gaining knowledge of the outside world, which they promptly hid from the average person. Obviously, some information has indeed gotten out, but as there has been no official word from the government, none of it is even remotely accurate.
Yet in 1996, the pivotal moment occurred in this expeditions: while looting the northern ruins of Sofia - a favorite pastime of many of the army units - a group of Vidinite soldiers ran into another uniformed force, with a different version of the Bulgarian flag on their shoulder. A short exchange occurred, and both sides retreated, believing themselves outnumbered. The group of soldiers fled back to their base camp, where the commander, knowing they would be followed, set up a massive ambush for the enemy. The camp was evacuated, and instructions given to the commander of the ambush to retreat as was possible. The ambush killed many of the attackers, and took a couple of prisoners, but was forced back northwards eventually.
The prisoners, under torture and before their execution as "capitalists," told them all about the place they came from - a Republic, and a democratic one at that, called the "Republic of Rhodope" out of the city of Smolyan in south-central Bulgaria that also claimed to be its legal successor. And, it seemed to be stronger than they were.
Vidin scouts and guerrillas were rapidly sent out into the territory between Vidin and Smolyan, to scout and slow down their enemies - that they knew would be attacking, for they surely now knew of their existence.
This proved beneficial in 1997, when a very large force out of this "Rhodope" place was spotted approaching Vidin borders - and was too large to stop outright. However, a plan to ambush the opponents, in a small wooden valley about 15 miles south of Vidin, was made. Due to their enemies not patrolling properly, they never detected the ambush before it went off - and a third were slaughtered outright, including their commander. While they would not be able to make the situation worse due to the actions of a battalion commander whose brains seemed to still be intact, who pulled off a masterful rearguard action. Various diseases and attacks by guerrillas would reduce the attacking force, which had outnumbered them by about two to one.
The Soviet commanders, getting a bit old for action in the field by this time, had begun to delegate military actions to others, as well as taking themselves out of the public eye. they did, however, remain in charge. Their puppet president and prime minister had both died by this time, and two more - those still currently "in charge" - were appointed in their place.
After the repelling of the Rhodope forces, the prisoners gained were again interrogated under duress - and then executed. Yet, the leadership was worried enough that they began construction of a defense line along the borders of their territory, between the rivers, to keep the Rhodopians out. And, as intelligence had them with no heavy artillery in their possession, they had no way to break the line. Forces continued to be sent out into the no-man's land, where they fought small battles with Rhodope forces as they kept looting the countryside. Several platoon size battles occurred across the territory, keeping survivors in the area in terror. One battle in the Plovdiv ruins even ruined several important cultural items, as the fighting destroyed a few old churches and a museum there.
Worried about Rhodopian preparations to bring the fight back to them, but effectively, the army commanders made clandestine contact with the few closet Communists left in Rhodope, as well as a few dissatisfied Socialists, and infiltrated some of their men to pull off suicide bombings and mass shootings there. On October 31st, after using a series of mortar attacks the day before as a distraction, the bombings and shootings went off. While largely successful, the overall goal of scaring them off failed - and a failed attack on the Greek embassy meant that the Greeks would now aid them in their goal against Vidin.
With this new support, and the new techniques brought on by their new commander - the rearguard commander from the debacle in 1997 - Rhodope was finally able to use their larger army effectively, by more or less starving out guerrillas in the countryside using British techniques from the Boer War. However, the defensive line was now completed, so the troops were pulled back to there.
Now, the goal was be to keep the Rhodopian Army from acquiring the heavy artillery needed to break the line. To the present, they were largely successful at this through guerrilla attacks, though the mountain passes and the Sicilians also helped greatly. Unfortunately, there was some heavy artillery, protected by tanks, that the Rhodope Army obtained through Greek contacts, on its way to the defense line, estimated to arrive at the end of July, that they could not destroy. Efforts in Vidin were then put towards fortifying Vidin and Belogradchik today.
Rhodope acquisitions of speedboats and small planes salvaged from the ruins and obtained from the Greeks through trade led to a severe slacking of Vidin attacks in what the Soviet Republic referred to as "occupied" land, making life easier for the Rhodope Army besieging Vidin Province.
On August 2nd, 2010, the heavy howitzers of the Rhodope Army that had been on their way to the defense line arrived. The Vidin Army expected a breakthrough within days, and it came the next day. By the 14th, both Vidin itself and Belogradchik were under siege. A failed attempt to bring down a Rhodope scout plane on the same day allowed them to break into Vidin, where they would capture Pirinski and eventually kill the major, finally clearing out the city, despite a Vidinite attempt to spark a war between Rhodope and Macedonia, with the demolition of the last Vidin structures on September 20th. The head of Paunov, as well as the city of Belogradchik, would be handed over to Rhodope on the 3rd.
After the War
Pirinski was locked in a jail cell in Smolyan, pending trial. No lawyers would defend him in the area, so the Rhodopian authorities had to go to the expense of importing one from Siberia for him. His trial began on July 18th, 2011, and the likely result is death.
On June 15th, 2011, a coup in Serbia, backed by the Vidinite refugees there, overthrow the state. The refugees assisted the coup leaders, and were given arms from rebels against the coup and mutinous military units. The leaders of the refugees met with the new Serbian head of state on July 18th, in closed quarters. On July 29th, it was announced in Kragujevac that the new Serbian government was recognizing the refugees as the legitimate government of Bulgaria. This move, making Serbia the only source of recognition for them, has been universally condemned.
Officially, the government of Vidin consists of a Council of State and a Council of Ministers, which are supposed to function as the upper and lower houses of the state. More realistically, the Council of State is headed by a Chairman - the other council is headed by one as well - who is like the president of a republic, with his advisers. The Council of Ministers is more like a legislature, and nominates the Council of State from itself, though in practice the council of State chooses its own members.
Reports from the spies operated in Vidin by the Rhodopian government that have been given to the WRCB representatives in Smolyan state a very different picture - while going to great lengths to hide the original sources. These reports speak of a "Soviet," in the style of the city governments that existed in the Soviet Union, that runs things behind the scenes.
Still led by the Soviet major, this group is still the real power behind the state today, though its original members have started to die off, and be replaced by Bulgarians who the group considers loyal. Two of these Bulgarians are the ones in charge of the two councils, Aleksandar Paunov and Georgi Pirinski. They still, however, have to run their decisions by the Soviet before the rest of the official "government" can even know about them.
Little else is known, though the reports do all speak of an environment that is much better off than the rest of the nation, full of items looted from the countryside and that power has obviously corrupted these men. However, they are still devout Communists, despite their failures over the years, and have grown even more radical. Violence is not unusual, and it is not uncommon for the Soviet to hold a trial and execute the defendant themselves after declaring them guilty.
The oddest part of this is their logic for not even considering defeat an option in the war with Rhodope - they think in their deluded minds that the Socialist Union in Siberia will save them, despite its distance from the area, as well as it stating publicly that it condemns them and their actions. The Soviet considers this a cover for a rescue that will eventually occur. The reason for all of this is likely some sort of radiation damage effecting their minds.
Both of these governments are based in the city of Vidin, though after Rhodope finally broke through the defensive barrier half of each went to Belogradchik to co-ordinate the defense there, and were slaughtered by the rebellions the eventually broke out there.
To maintain the defense lines, more than a third of the population were been conscripted into the army. Those not involved with government or producing foodstuffs were forced by the Red Banner Guards to construct fortifications around the cities of Vidin and Belogradchik, where the military could hold out until Siberian relief arrived.
There were two main branches of the military in Vidin. The Regular army consists of about 55,000 men and women, the majority of which man the defense line. The remainder of the Army helped the approximately 3,500 strong Red Banner Guards, which are both the elite forces and security police. These guards answered to the Soviet, though officially it is the Chairman of the Council of State. Fanatically loyal Communists, they will do anything for the Communist Party, and are who are primarily responsible for keeping the state secure and free of Rhodopian spies, as well as attempting to infiltrate Rhodope-controlled territory.
When Rhodope started operating motor boats to hinder Vidinite movement of forces into their territory, the Guards took the few surviving and operational boats left in Vidin to try to hinder them. However, the newer and stronger boats held by Rhodope - as well as their greater numbers - meant that before long all of these boats were destroyed.
Military engineers managed to construct a method to destroy the Rhodope Army's light planes, which was repairing light anti-air missiles and using them, though it was unknown if this would be completed soon enough to do any good. Plans were also being made for resistance after a potential conquest by Rhodope, which eventually game to be, but without any real allies in the area this resistance, based in Serbia, will likely be fruitless.
The economy of Vidin was set up along a very communal nature - all the farms were collectivized, factories are run by committee, and everything was owned by the state.
Unlike previously, however, all were expected to meet both their targets, as well as to produce as much beyond that target as possible. This was the policy so that no laziness occurred, and it was enforced rigidly by the Red Guards - any failure to be efficient in production will be punished.
Besides food, few little was produced in any great quantity in Vidin. Besides the necessities for life, weapons and wine were the only things produced. In fact, wine was produced in such a great amount that everyone drank it fairly regularly - it was the one thing that all have access to that can be considered a luxury.
The city of Vidin did have a port, and it was a fairly successful one prior to Doomsday. However, the majority of the ships and boats in the port were rendered inoperable by EMP given off on Doomsday. The remainder of the vessels - as well as those that the Vidin government managed to repair since - were largely used to shuttle insurgents across the river past the defense line. However, the vast majority of these were destroyed in fighting with better-armed vessels under the control of the Rhodopian military.
Much of the funds used by the state had actually been gained by disposing of items looted from elsewhere. These allowed them to make purchases of arms or other weaponry in the chaos of the former Yugoslavia to the west, largely in Serbia, though this source has dried up with the destruction of their vessels and lack of ability to get to unlooted territory.
The vast majority of the inhabitants in Vidin were ethnic Bulgarians. There were, however, large amounts of Romanians and Serbians who fled their countries and were deemed suitable by the regime to be let in.
It was believed that much of the population - more than 95% - would be Orthodox if they were allowed to practice. As it were, all churches and the like in the territory had long since been destroyed. It is now believed that pieces of these structures are what was used to construct much of the defense lines and city walls that have been built in Vidin. As it was, even saying "God" in Vidin could get you executed.
Besides the long and horrid war with Rhodope that has left much of Western Bulgaria in pieces, there are few powers that would have anything to do with them - and none of these were close enough to matter to any great degree.
They encountered Macedonia in the past, though the leadership was reportedly so repulsed by the idea that they executed the party that told them the news. However, expeditions had been sent to Macedonia since, despite their disgust, hoping for weapons of some sort through gift or trade. It would have worked out, but they refused to meet with the king, as he was an "oppressor" of the people, and were thrown out. This encounter is what threw speculation to the winds that Macedonia was supplying Vidin with weapons, though it had little truth to it, despite the attempt to make Rhodope believe this was true. Macedonian patrols assisted Rhodope in its war when Vidinite soldiers crossed into territory until their control and they slaughtered the offenders.
Much the same encounter occurred with Greek and Turkish representatives, though the Greeks were also chastised for trading with Rhodope as well.
Prior to its collapse, the government had been in contact with Yugoslavia. However, this was quit after the takeover of the government by nationalists, and the only official contact in that direction besides various arms traders has been with Macedonia.
Most contact with the outside world has been through Transylvania. Due to their closeness geographically, they were been forced into having relations despite the intense dislike held by the Soviet. However, nothing goes on nowadays, with the war going on and having ended, except the occasional request for aid, which was obviously refused. There has been cases of people in the past trying to flee from Vidin to there, but all known attempts have resulted in the deaths of the attempted escapees. Vidin cannot even raid in that direction - they have been told explicitly that they will be destroyed if they try it. Transylvania contributed several of its patrol boats towards Rhodopian vessels in the river near Vidin.
Otherwise, little outside contact was made, though a party was sent to Siberia though Macedonia some time before, stopping at Sicily on the way, attempting to get their support. While it was refused outright - they could not even get a meeting with the government leaders in Siberia - they still believed that they would be saved by them, right up to the final collapse of the state. In Sicily they did succeed in bribing the navy to interdict ships carrying the heavy artillery bound for Rhodope by way of Greece, though after the warfare there had died down this was no longer an option.
Really, due to the nature of the republic, they were an international pariah, and most countries would not have minded too badly to see them gone. This was proven true after the demolition of the state in September, 2010, by Rhodope.