local representatives of the Fatherland Front. Originally, the members were to serve three-year term, but all subsequent elections were rigged, and the councils were simply surrogates of the Communist party. The dissmination of the decisions of the paty's Politburo, as well as the decrees issued by the government, was the main task of these councils. They existed on village, district, and county levels; the larger cities had their own councils. They paralleled the hierarchy of party organizations taking their orders through the appropriate members of the nomenklatura. This was a dual system of government in which local initiatives were discouraged. It was also a system which, by its very nature, generated corruption and nepotism. In 1959, an effort was made to decentralize local governments. Some authority was transferred to the local councils, and district councils were restricted in their supervision. Development planning, the evaluation of projects initiated by the local People's Councils, and the production of designs were now the responsibility of local governments. Nevertheless, the central authorities had the final say in all important matters.
Brown J. F., Bulgaria under Communist Rule ( New York, 1970).
People's Courts. The Bulgarian court system was established in the late nineteenth- early twentieth centuries. The system was based on the enlightened principle of impartiality of judges and the equality of citizens before the law. Although, during the 1930s, the courts come increasingly under the domination of the government, judicial traditions survived even the fascist episode in Bulgaria. The communists began destroying this system in late 1944 and early 1945 by organizing the so-called People's Courts which were courts in name only. These courts were directed by the ministries of the interior and justice, were run by members of the Communist party's hierarchy, and they meted out sentences predetermined by the communist leaders. The People's Courts were ostensibly created to punish war criminals, but, in time, they became the instruments for the destruction of the previous political system and the judicial murder of prewar and World War II politicians. Most penalties given out by the courts were, in any case, disproportionate to the alleged crimes committed. The People's Courts murdered more than 2,000 former politicians and leading intellectuals, decapitating the system that could stand up against their usurpation of power. The officers of the Bulgarian army were similarly treated, and long prison terms were handed out to "lesser" offenders. The new secret police, created on the pattern and with the help of the Soviet KGB, had been the mainstay of the People's Courts and had often executed those who were sentenced to death.
By late 1946, the work of the People's Courts had been successfully completed, although later trials and executions were still processed through them. The communists' subordination of the entire judicial system to the vagaries of the changing party line seriously affected the prestige of the courts. It also created widespread cynicism among the population. The courts usually handled communists, who broke the law, leniently, but handed out serious sentences against offenders who were not affiliated