Bulgaria under Soviet rule, the mood never better captured than in the telling of the trial of highly respected Bulgarian architect, Boyan Chinkov.
Two publicly told jokes, usefully giving the authorities the witnesses whose testimony would later be used in the case against a guy who seemed to crack jokes all the time, one about the forbidden topic of food shortages in Kruschchev’s Soviet Union, the other lampooning a political official of the state led to the arrest – weeks-long interrogation and finally the trial of Chinkov.
Case Number 258, 14th-16th January 1964: State Security against the Architect for telling political jokes ‘an offence under article 108 of the Penal Code which passed for “slanderous allegations against the state or the social system” led to a 5 year prison sentence to be completed in the infamous Stara Zagora prison and confiscation of some of his property. His response, in typical style,
‘Thank you for sending me to the only place where there are no queues”**
His sentence was shortening after an outcry and he served 11 months. Legend has it that ultimately it was with the intervention of the then French President Charles de Gaulle and the Head of the French association of Architects that the decision was made to release Chinakov.
Born in Slaveyno, Bulgaria, a 1925 graduate of TU Berlin, he (1899-1979) was recognised as an important Modernist. Boyan’s son, architect and author Nikola Chinkov wrote Plovdiv Architectural Chronicle and a personal account of his father’s life Architect Boyan Chinkov 1995
Boyan’s many projects, the majority in Southern Bulgaria include:
Kozhuharov apartment building Plovdiv
Residential architecture in Asenovgrad
Museum and home of Konstantin Chilov, Slaveyno
Commissions in Pamporovo
*With thanks to Values Across Cultures and Times by Biljana Mišić and Vesna Lopičić
** With thanks to Otzvuk.bg