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111th anniversary of the murder of Stefan Stambolov

111th anniversary of the murder of Stefan Stambolov

7/6/2006 10:21:21 AM

Stefan Stambolov (1854-1895), was born on the 31st of January 1854 in the town of Veliko Turnovo (ancient Bulgarian capital), where his father kept a small inn. During the politico-religious agitation which preceded the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate in 1870, a number of Bulgarian young men were sent to Russia to be educated at the expense of the Imperial Government; among them was Stambolov, who studied at the Odessa Seminary in order to prepare for priesthood. His wayward and independent nature, however, rebelled against the discipline of school life. He entered into close relations with the Bulgarian revolutionary committees at Bucharest, Gyurgevo and Galatz.

In 1875, only 20 years old, he led an insurrectionary movement at Nova Zagora in Bulgaria, and in the following 1876 he organized another rising in Gorna Oryakhhovitza. In the autumn of 1876 he took part as a volunteer in the Serbian campaign against Turkey, and subsequently joined the Bulgarian volunteer contingent with the Russian army, in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878.

After the signing of the Berlin Treaty in 1878, Stambolov settled in Veliko Turnovo, as a lawyer, and was soon elected Deputy for his native town at the National Assembly. His force of character, his undoubted patriotism, his brilliant eloquence, and his disinclination to accept office, a rare characteristic in a Bulgarian politician, combined to render him one of the most influential men in Bulgaria.

After the abduction of Knjaz Alexander Batemberg by a band of military conspirators (Aug. 21, 1886), Stambolov, who was then in Turnovo, acted with characteristic promptitude and courage. In his capacity as the Chairman of the National Assembly, he established a loyal government at Turnovo, issued a manifes to to the nation, nominated his brother-in-law, General Mutkurov, commander-in-chief of the army, and invited the Knjaz to return to Bulgaria. The consequence of these measures was the downfall of the provisional government set up by the Russophil party in Sofia.

Under the newly-elected ruler to the vacant throne (Knjaz Ferdinand Coburg Gotha - July 7, 1887), he became Prime Minister, and Minister of the Interior, and continued in office for nearly seven years. The aim of his foreign policy was to obtain the recognition of Knjaz Ferdinand, and to win the support of the Triple Alliance and Great Britain against Russian interference in Bulgaria. With the assistance of Austria-Hungary and Great Britain, Stambolov negotiated large foreign loans which enabled him to develop the military strength of Bulgaria. Under Knjaz Ferdinand he pursued the same despotic methods of government which had characterized his administration during the regency.

On July 15, 1895, Stefan Stambolov was attacked and barbarously mutilated by a band of assassins in the streets of Sofia, and died of his injuries three days later, on July 18th (new style: July 6th).

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