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Bulgaria: Former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov Shot Dead

Sofia, Bulgaria, 2 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A senior Bulgarian official says the country's first post-communist prime minister, Andrei Lukanov, was shot to death at his home in Sofia this morning.

The speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Blagovest Sendov, announced Lukanov's death at the morning session of the National Assembly. He provided no other details before closing the session.

Lukanov, who was 58, became prime minister after helping to topple Communist Party chief Todor Zhivkov in November 1989. Nationwide protest strikes forced Lukanov to step down six months later.

A member of the post-communist Socialist Party, Lukanov remained a member of Parliament and had become an influential businessman.

The Reuter news agency quotes neighbors as saying Lukanov was shot twice in the head while leaving his house. The police have not yet commented on the shooting.

Lukanov was an economist by training. He served as a deputy prime minister and foreign trade minister in the 1980s.

Lukanov was a leader of a Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) faction, which has strongly criticized fellow Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Lukanov had called for Videnov to resign over Bulgaria's economic crisis.

He was born in Moscow, the son of prominent Bulgarian communists, and studied at Moscow's Intitute of International Relations. He spoke fluent Russian, English, French and Spanish.