Bulgaria Celebrates Life of National Hero Vassil Levski
Bulgarians are celebrating Sunday the 173th anniversary of the birth of Vassil Levski - the fighter for national and civic freedom who holds central place in Bulgarian historical consciousness - with a number of events throughout the country.
Levski was born Vassil Kunchev in the central Bulgarian town of Karlovo, July 18, 1837. At that time Bulgaria was still part of the Ottoman Empire, and many were aspiring for the creation of a Bulgarian nation-state with a European orientation.
After a short stint of training for the clergy, Levski joined the Bulgarian liberation movement. 1862 he went to Belgrade to become part of Georgi Rakovski's Bulgarian Legion. The following years he worked as a teacher in various parts of the country, gathering support for the movement, and also took part in a number of armed freedom-fighting groups.
Following contact with Bulgarian emigrants in Romania and a disillusionment with the prospects of fighting Ottoman authorities in small armed groups, 1862 Levski began traveling around the country to stir up the population and establish a network of Revolutionary Committees.
In his work Levski quickly became renowned for his unheard of bravery and selflessness. He advocated a republican constitutional arrangement and equal rights to all, at a time when nationalist sentiments were not foreign to many activists of the Bulgarian Revival.
He was captured by Ottoman authorities end of 1872, sentenced to death and hanged near Sofia on February 18, 1873. The site of his execution is now downtown and marked by the Vassil Levski Monument.
To Bulgarian consciousness Levski, dubbed the Apostle of Freedom, has always been the epitome of selfless devotion to the common good.
Sunday celebrations are scheduled at Levski monuments across Bulgaria. As is traditional, Levski's hometown of Karlovo hosts a number of solemn events, to culminate in the official celebration, attended by senior state leaders, and headed by President Georgi Parvanov, at 21.00 EET.
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