Bulgarians are celebrating Sunday the 173th anniversary from the birth of Vassil Levski, the fighter for national and civic freedom who has a central place in Bulgarian historical consciousness.
Levski was born Vassil Kunchev in central Bulgarian town of Karlovo, July 18, 1837. At the time Bulgaria was still part of the Ottoman Empire, and many were aspiring for a Bulgarian nation-state with a European orientation.
After a short stint of training for clergy, Levski joined the Bulgarian liberation movement. 1862 he went to Belgrade to join 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.
After contact with Bulgarian emigrants in Romania and a disillusionment with the prospects of fighting Ottoman authorities in small armed groups, 1862 Levski began travelling around the country to stir up the population and establish a network of “Revolutionary Committees”.
In his activities, 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 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, at 21.00 EET.