We continue with our stories about emblematic Plovdiv figures, who in one form or another have left their mark in the history of the city under the hills


Alexander Georgiev Nikolov, nicknamed Sasho Sladura (the cute one), is a famous Bulgarian jazz musician. Although he became an emblematic figure for Sofia and Plovdiv, the musician was actually born in Pleven on September 15, 1917. His father, Eng. Georgi Nikolov, was one of the founders of Boris's Garden, and his mother was Czech - the daughter of a manager of a large Czech castle. From Pleven the family moved to Plovdiv, where the father was appointed director of Simeon's Garden in the city center. Alexander graduated from an Italian school in Plovdiv, the St. Augustine French College in Plovdiv and then studied music at the Prague Conservatory.

After returning to Bulgaria and after the disbandment of the Royal Symphony Orchestra, he began playing as a solo violinist in the orchestra of the restaurant at the Hotel Bulgaria, where he became a favorite of the audience and because of his cheerful and funny temper received the nickname Sasho Sladura. Communist rulers were frequent guests at parties, inaccessible to the people from factories and construction sites, and on various official holidays Valko Chervenkov himself came to listen to jazz with his entourage. Sladura wasn’t afraid to tell jokes about socialism and the people in power.

But the time after 1956, when Todor Zhivkov came to power, became especially dangerous for the bohemians. Then the State Security began to monitor Sladura and agents of the services eavesdropped on him and reported him daily and everywhere. The Object folder, as the cops named Sasho in his file, was getting thicker. However, the jokester didn’t stop with his jokes about the new rulers. On December 25, 1959, he received his first sentence for undermining the prestige of people's power and Bulgarian-Soviet relations. Sentenced to 1 year, Alexander Nikolov spent 7 months in prison.

However, he didn’t enjoy his freedom for long. On August 19, the Ministry of Interior issued an order for the musician to be deported to the Razgrad village of Ushintsi and to work in the local cooperative farm. As early as the end of 1959, however, Mircho Spasov began to compile a list for the liquidation of "declining elements" and the first place in it was Alexander Sladura Nikolov. He was destined to be sent to a labor camp in Lovech. There are different versions. According to one of them, the reason for the musician to end up in a camp is a "police" joke.

On September 15, 1961, Sasho was arrested and after spending eight nights in the cells of the State Security, he found himself in the Sunny Beach labor camp near Lovech. The instructions to the camp chief Nikolai Gazdov and his assistants were clear - Sladura to be brought to "natural death". According to some, Sladura was killed on the day of his arrival in Lovech, according to others he managed to survive only 11 days. He was killed after beatings, ill-treatment, humiliation and ridicule. Tonsillitis is written as the cause of death in the death certificate.

No matter how and when he died, with his natural sense of humor and musical talent, Sladura left a lasting mark and became a legend. Many of his jokes are still told today. Other anecdotes have been reworked and told with a modern twist.

In the city of Plovdiv in September 2002 a monument of him was erected in the space between the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts and the Ancient Theater.