The Majority of the Bulgarian Community in Zaporizhzhia is under Occupation
The majority of the Bulgarian community in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast is under Russian occupation. The Bulgarians in the area are in 30 Bulgarian villages in Berdiansk, Melitopol, Prymorsk and Pryazovske regions, the chairman of the Zaporizhzhia regional Bulgarian society Vasil Mitkov told BTA.
"The situation in Zaporizhzhia is complicated, there are constant rocket attacks, destruction, casualties. In the last two weeks, the situation has been relatively calm. It is already felt that the Ukrainian army is preparing for an offensive. We see our planes near the city. This gives us hope and faith for the liberation of the occupied territories and victory," he also shared.
Many representatives of the Bulgarian community from Berdiansk, Melitopol and Prymorsk managed to move in time to the city of Zaporizhzhia, as well as to other parts of Ukraine.
"I would say that many of our compatriots found shelter in Bulgaria, these are our representantives and members of Bulgarian societies, Bulgarian language teachers, etc. However, the main part of the community is under occupation. From time to time we hear from our compatriots from Pryazovske, Prymorsk, Melitopol. The connection is complicated and not always possible. What they tell us is that it is not easy for them under occupation. They are afraid to talk more because the phones are tapped. But also from what they tell us it is clear that they are facing great difficulties", said Vasil Mitkov and added that several Bulgarians in the occupied territories were arrested. "We are fighting for their release, they are included in the list for exchange. We hope to help them," stressed Mitkov.
The Bulgarian community in Zaporizhzhia Oblast numbers 27,764 people, according to official statistics from the last census in Ukraine in 2001. The main part of Bulgarians lives in nearly 30 villages between the cities of Berdiansk and Melitopol, as well as in the towns of Prymorsk and Pryazovske. The so-called Tavriyan Bulgarians settled on the territory of modern Zaporizhzhia in 1861-62. They are the descendants of the Bessarabian Bulgarians from the southern part of modern Ukraine and Moldova.
Already in independent Ukraine, after 1991, the Tavriyan Bulgarians organized Bulgarian societies, centers, and Sunday schools. Nine Bulgarian organizations were established. In 1996, the Prymorsk Regional Ukrainian-Bulgarian Polytechnic Lyceum was opened. Bust-monuments of Vasil Levski in the city of Berdiansk, of Hristo Botev in the village of Botievo, Pryazovske district and of Hadji Dimitar in the city of Melitopol were built.
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