Bulgaria Commemorates Death of Revolutionary Botev
Air raid sirens are going to resound across Bulgaria at 12 noon Sunday, June 2, in honor of the heroic death of Bulgarian poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev.
This Sunday, Bulgaria marks the 137th anniversary of Botev's death, with official ceremonies taking place across the country.
People traditionally stand up in silence for the three minutes while the sirens are sounded.
Hristo Botev was born on December 25, 1847 (new style: January 6, 1848) in the town of Kalofer, in the family of the teacher Botio Petkov and Ivanka Boteva.
He left Bulgaria to study in Russia where he became strongly influenced by Russian revolutionaries.
Botev began writing poetry while still in school, under the influence of the Bulgarian folklore and songs glorifying the "haiduks" - rebels and outlaws fighting the Ottoman rule.
His first poetry book was a 1875 joint collection of poems with Stephan Stambolov, under the title "Songs and Poems from Botev and Stambolov."
Botev's poetry soon became very popular and his poems turned into folklore - they were sung as folk songs without people even knowing their author's name.
His verse remains a high classic of Bulgarian literature, achieving an intense imagery seldom achieved.
In his work as a journalist, Botev became well known with his sharp and unforgiving wit and scathing criticism not only of Ottoman rule, but also of public vices amongst Bulgarians, such as selfishness, and narrow-mindedness.
After the start of the 1876 April Uprising, which had the goal to liberate Bulgaria and is considered the apogee of the fight for independence, Botev began organising a troupe to enter Bulgaria and help the rebels.
Botev and part of the troupe boarded the Radetzky ship in Giurgiu (Romania) on May 30, 1876. From the ship Botev sent articles describing the grave situation of the Bulgarian people to several foreign publications as well as his famous goodbye letter to his family.
The troupe convinced the Austrian captain to let them leave the ship at the Bulgarian port of Kozloduy and started moving in the direction of the Balkan Mountains, south of which most of the battles of the April Uprising were taking place.
On June 1 Botev's troupe engaged in its heaviest fight with the Turkish army. Botev was hit by a bullet and died at the foot of the Vola mount in the western Stara Planina mountains, near the town of Vratza.
The following date, June 2, was officially declared as the Day of Botev and of Those Who Have Perished in the Fight for Bulgaria's Independence on May 31, 1993 with a decision of Bulgaria's Council of Ministers.
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