Todor Zhivkov, former communist leader of Burgaria. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

1998 - Bulgaria’s Todor Zhivkov, Eastern Europe’s last surviving strongman, died at the age of 86, marking the end of the Communist era in the Balkan state. “Zhivkov has died,” a doctor in the government hospital in Sofia said. Besides being the Communist party leader in one of the darkest periods of Bulgarian history, he was also head of state for decades. Zhivkov was admitted to Sofia’s elite government hospital a month ago with viral infection and pneumonia. He had ruled Bulgaria from 1954 until he was ousted in a bloodless coup by fellow party members in 1989. He was released from house arrest in September 1997.

Other important events

1861 - US federal government levies an income tax for the first time.

1949 - Earthquake in Ecuador kills 6,000.

1962 - African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela is arrested for inciting a workers’ strike.

1963 - US, Britain and Soviet Union sign a treaty in Moscow banning nuclear tests in atmosphere, space and under water.

1984 - A Bangladesh airliner crashes in heavy rain while landing at Dhaka’s Zia international airport killing all 49 passengers.

1992 - Nelson Mandela leads 100,000 blacks in Pretoria in a protest to end white rule.

1995 - US and Vietnam formally establish diplomatic ties.

1996 - US President Bill Clinton signs a bill to punish businesses that invest in Iran and Libya.

2012 - Nasa’s Curiosity rover lands on Mars.

2013 - A Turkish court sentences former military commander General Ilker Basbug to life in prison.

2016 - Olympic flame is lit in Rio as the 2016 Summer Games are declared open.