|5th President of Bulgaria|
22 January 2017
Ognyan Gerdzhikov (Acting)
Rumen Georgiev Radev
18 June 1963
|Political party||Independent (1990-present)|
|Spouse(s)||Ginka Radeva (?-2014; divorced)|
Desislava Radeva (2016-present)
|Children||Darina (b. 2001) |
Georgi (b. 2003)
|Alma mater||Bulgarian Air Force University |
Rakovski Military Academy
Air War College
|Allegiance|| People's Republic of Bulgaria|
|Branch/service||Bulgarian Air Force|
|Years of service||1987-2017|
Rumen Georgiev Radev (Bulgarian: ; born 18 June 1963) is a Bulgarian politician and former Major General who is the current President of Bulgaria since January 22, 2017. Radev previously served as Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force. 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.
Radev was born on June 18, 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 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. In the same month, ABR withdrew its presidential nomination of General Radev in favour of Ivaylo Kalfin.
On the first round of the election, conducted on November 6, 2016, Radev came first with 25.44% of the vote. He faced GERB candidate Tsetska Tsacheva in the runoff the following Sunday, November 13. He defeated her, winning 59.37% of the popular vote.
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. 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.
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.
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. The pro-government majority in Bulgaria's national assembly overruled Radev's veto and the deal was nonetheless concluded.
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. The Supreme Judicial Council refused to revise their decision and voted in favour of Geshev a second time, which triggred a constitutional requirement for Radev as President to sign the decree. 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.
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".
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. He met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an 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.
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.
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.
Radev has enjoyed positive approval ratings for the vast majority of his presidency. Having been elected with around 60% of the vote in the Fall 2016 Election, he managed to keep that figure as his approval rating through to 2018. His approval then rose to 67% by May 2018, before falling to around 56% by Fall 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.
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.
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.