As a student of history, Kiryakov was involved in discussion circles organized by prominent and independent-minded Bulgarian historians, such as Nikolay Genchev, Aleksandar Fol, Vera Mutafchieva, and others. The Rila Monastery National Museum, where he was assigned to work, was a meeting place for critical intellectuals as well. Because of expressing critical opinions publicly and discussing “inconvenient facts” about World War II and Stalin’s repressive regime, Kiryakov was expelled from the Dimitrov Communist Youth Union (the Bulgarian version of the Komsomol). Consequently, Kiryakov became member of the first dissident organization in Bulgaria, the Public Committee for the Environmental Protection of Ruse, which was established at the House of Cinema in Sofia on March 8, 1988, after the screening of Yuri Zhirov's film Breathe about the ecological disaster in the town of Ruse (see the collection Ecological Protests against the Chlorine Pollution in Ruse). Kiryakov also joined the "Klub za podkrepa na glasnostta i preustroystvoto [Club for Support of Publicity and Reconstruction]"in Bulgaria, which was initiated by the philosopher and dissident (and later president of Bulgaria), Zhelyu Zhelev, in November 1988 at Sofia University (see also the Zhelev collection in the Courage registry).
Thus Boyko Kiryakov had been part of the so-called neformali (non-conformists) networks before the end of the communist regime. He contributed to the literary samizdat magazines Glas [Voice] and Most [Bridge]. Kiryakov participated in a broad range of oppositional activities, including democratic resistance, environmental protection, and critical (political) analysis.
Up until 1989, working as a historian, Boyko Kiryakov mostly studied monastic history and the history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Bulgarian literature. After the political changes of 1989, which enabled research on the repressive structures of the socialist state and on opposition to communism, Kiryakov's main research field shifted to the history of emigration and political exile during the socialist era. Kiryakov is interested in the periodization of exile and the activities of émigrés and their organizations, upon which he has authored several publications. Kiryakov has also undertaken numerous initiatives and publications on the topic of the State Security and has been a member of archive projects exhibiting De-Stalinization as well as taking part in the De-Stalinization – the Dilemma of a Controversial Decade (2013) anthology. These activities and professional status as an archival expert demonstrate Kiryakov’s appreciation of the importance of preserving documents on the opposition to communist rule.Kiryakov’s understanding of the cultural opposition reflects his own broad activities against the regime. In the interview, Kiryakov highlights the political aspect of numerous cultural practices which strained against the narrow aesthetic norms of the political system, be it in the arts or sciences. Such acts contributed to the gradual erosion of the communist regime.
- Sofia, Bulgaria
Kiryakov, Boyko 1999. Hristo Ognyanov. Biografia [Hristo Ognyanov. Biography]. Sofia: IK Gutenberg.