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PEOPLE'S LIBERAL PARTY IN BULGARIA 1903-1920

Author: Zheko Popov

Editor's Note: See the provisional organization chart on Political Parties and Government Policies in "I. Stoyanov. Liberal Party in the Principality of Bulgaria 1879-1886. Sofia, 1989".

 

Popular Vote in Bulgaria

Stefan Stambolov

Stefan Nikolov Stambolov (12 February 1854 - 18 July 1895) is a prominent Bulgarian statesman, revolutionary, journalist, and politician. He actively participated in the Stara Zagora Uprising in 1875 and the April uprising in 1876. After the liberation of Bulgaria, he is one of the active leaders of the Liberal Party. His actions during the Unification and the crisis after the coup of 1886 proved crucial to stabilizing the country and cut off from the dependence on Russia. The government led by his People's Liberal Party (Narodnoliberalna), though criticized for persecution of opposition politicians, laid the foundations for recovery of Bulgaria in the next two decades. Chairman of the IV Ordinary National Assembly (1884-1886).

Stefan Stambolov was born in Tarnovo. His father was a plotter of Velchova Conspiracy (1835) and collaborator to Captain Nikola. Stefan Stambolov grew surrounded by revolutionaries such as Hristo Ivanov "the Grand", Father Matthew Transfiguration, and Hristo Karaminkov-Bunin. His education began in the hometown. He studied at the Theological Seminary in Odessa (1870-1872 ), but did not completed it as he was off for relations with the Russian revolutionaries. In 1873, he was briefly a teacher in Tarnovo, then went to Romania to participate in the National Liberation struggles.

Stambolov was a delegate to the revolutionary committee at the General Assembly of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee on 2-3 September 1874. In the autumn he was sent by BRCC in Bulgaria as deputy to Levski to revive the revolutionary committees. The following year returned to Bucharest, where he issued a general book of poetry with his associate Hristo Botev (“Songs and Poem”). Stambolov participated in BRCC General Assembly on 24 August 1875, at which it was decided to revolt in Bulgaria. He was sent as apostle in the Stara Zagora revolutionary district, where became one of the leaders of Stara Zagora Uprising.

After the failure of Stara Zagora Uprising, Stambolov again went to Romania. On 13 October 1875 he participated in the meeting of the BRCC in Giurgiu, whence was decided to organize a general uprising in the spring of next year. Designated chief apostle of revolutionary Tarnovo District. After the defeat of the April uprising, he fled again to Romania and participated in the leadership of the Bulgarian Central Charity Society. He issued temporarily Botev's journal "New Bulgaria".

During the Russo-Turkish War (1877- 1878) Stambolov was a military correspondent of the newspaper “Modem Times”. Participate in the campaign for the supply of food and fodder for the action of the Russian army.

According to the decisions of the Berlin Treaty, the majority of land populated mainly by Bulgarians, including Macedonia, remained within the Ottoman Empire. Stambolov participated in the preparation and execution of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising in Macedonia. Together with Nikola Obretenov, he advocated for sending the apostles to prepare the people to revolt.

Even during the Constituent Assembly (1879) Stefan Stambolov is among the most active supporters of the Liberal Party. As chairman of the National Assembly he is the first official in the Principality of Bulgaria, who supports the unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia on 6 September 1885. Stambolov participate as a volunteer in the ensuing Serbo-Bulgarian War, which protects the Unification of the battlefield. The unification and its protection is a blow to Russia’s imperial interests in the Balkans, which do not include the existence of bonded Bulgaria outside the Russian conditions.

Encouraged by Russia, a group of officers Russophiles staged out a coup and deposed Prince Alexander I of Battenberg. Stambolov declared strongly against the coup and organized a contra-coup, which led to the return to the Principality of Alexander I Battenberg. After a formally voluntary abdication of Prince Alexander I, Stefan Stambolov entered into the composition of the Regency Council (7 September 1886 - 7 July 1887). The conducted elections and the convened III Grand National Assembly (1886-1887) chose a new Prince Ferdinand I.

After selecting the Prince, Stambolov headed a government established by his People's Party (1887-1894). The tasks it had set were: the protection of Bulgarian independence, pacification of the country, accelerating economic development, strengthening the international position of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian cause for protection of territories defined by the Treaty of San Stefano, but remained outside the Bulgarian state.

Having taken part in three failed uprisings Stambolov was aware at this stage, that the interests of the Great Powers are the only successful way for national reunification. In his diplomatic politics he was guided by the principle of indivisibility of Macedonia with the other Balkan countries, and therefore rejected a Serbian proposal for an alliance against the Sultan. Estimating the weakness of the Ottoman Empire, Stambolov combined policy of friendship and pressure on the Sultan. As a result were achieved a number of church and educational benefits, leading to the awakening of the Bulgarian element in Macedonia. In the face of the Ottoman Empire Stambolov saw necessary ally against Serbian and Greek chauvinist interests in Macedonia. This policy was combined with the construction of a modern army by European standards, which in the future to complete the task of national unification. Stambolov's policy of firmness and maneuvering against the great powers was beneficial to the national interest. Thus he was able to conclude a bargain for the Bulgarian economy  with several commercial contracts.

Stambolov's vigorous policy for economic development of the country was based on 3 principles: protectionism, tight fiscal policy, industrial and civil reconstruction. He developed an active legislative agenda that was highly protectionist. He passed a Law to promote domestic production of fabrics, Law which defined the railways as state property, etc. To avoid the danger of escalating the country's economic dependence were developed the sectors of banking and insurance, laid the foundations of municipal health services and pensions.

Russia’s void actions convinced Stambolov of the true purpose of its imperial policy - Bulgaria to become a Russian protectorate for the use and soliciting of Straits Doctrine of the Russian imperialism formed from Peter I. Russian interests were in conflict with Bulgarian aspirations for national independence and national unity expressed in the government of Stambolov. Stambolov strongly opposed any attempt to interfere in the Bulgarian cases, especially from Russia. To achieve this goal Stambolov took a number of tough measures to be used as evidence of dictatorship. He adopted laws against banditry and restriction of the press. Stambolov repeatedly tried to improve relations with Russia. However, on 6 November 1886 Russia broke diplomatic relations with Bulgaria.

Stambolov's intransigence towards Russia was against the ambitions of Ferdinand I of formal recognition. The Prince, seeking diplomatic support from Russia, removed Stambolov from the government in year 1894. It is in this environment that came the end of the 8-year rule of the People's Liberal Party and its leader Stambolov, considered the most important Bulgarian statesman.

On 3 July 1895, Stefan Stambolov was brutally slain in the streets by mercenaries known to be Macedonians close to Nahum Tyufekchiev, and three days later died of his wounds. The reason for his murder was revenge for the death of Kosta Panitsa - former ally of Stambolov that suggested Russia was trying to make a plot against Ferdinand I and as the result was executed. Stambolov was attacked two days before the delegation for reconciliation with Russia was to be accepted by Nicholas II.

Stefan Stambolov's government is characterized by active legislative and practical activities to ensure economic stability of Bulgaria and overcoming the common and multi-dimensional backwardness of the country. With these steps is launched state protectionism in the Bulgarian economy. In the years 1887-1894 based on those processes set in, Bulgaria becomes the most dynamically developing country in the Balkans.

Stefan Stambolov was married in 1888 to Poliksena Stancheva. From his marriage he have four children: Konstantin, Assen, Isabella, and Maria.

 

Racho Petrov

Racho Petrov Stoyanov (19 February 1861 - 22 January 1943) is Bulgarian officer (General Infantry) and politician. Gen. Racho Petrov held several positions in the Bulgarian army, and after his dismissal in 1896 was engaged in political activity. He was twice prime minister of Bulgaria - the first time headed the provisional 21st government from 25 January 1901 to 4 March 1901; the second - in the 26th government from 19 May 1903 to 4 November 1906. During his career he was considered especially close to Prince Ferdinand I.

Born in Shumen, he studied in Russia and on 30 August 1878 was promoted candidate officer (praporshchik). After the war, in 1878, Racho Petrov joined the command of volunteers in Plovdiv, and later that year enrolled in the Military School in Sofia where he graduated at the first class in 1879. On 24 March 1882 was promoted to Lieutenant. In 1883 graduated from Nikolaevsk Military Academy in St. Petersburg. He was appointed company commander in the 5th Infantry Battalion, Teteven, and then served in the 11th Infantry Battalion in Shumen. On 24 March 1885 was promoted to Captain, was assigned to the General Staff and appointed Brigadier adjutant in the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Brigade in Sofia.

After Unification (1885 ), with Decree 2 of Prince Alexander I issued on 9 September was appointed acting Chief of Staff of the Bulgarian army. After the Serbo-Bulgarian War (1885) was appointed titular Chief of Staff of the army. For his participation in the war was awarded Order For Bravery, II degree. On 1 January 1886 was promoted to Major. In 1887 he was chief of the Military School, and in February the same year Regency appointed him head of the East squad that temporarily formed in Rousse.

Racho Petrov was actively involved in the suppression of military rebellions in Rousse in 1887. On 24 April 1887 he was appointed Defense Minister in the government of Stefan Stambolov and remained in office in the second and third government of Konstantin Stoilov (1894-1896). On 2 August 1888 was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and on 2 August 1891 to the rank Colonel. On 17 November 1896 was promoted to Major General. On 29 November that year was dismissed from the army and discharged from the ministerial post.

In the coming years Racho Petrov dealt with political activity close to the People's Liberal Party. Participated in the second government of Todor Ivanchov and at the beginning of 1901 led interim government charged with conducting elections. In 1903-1906, again headed the government of the People's Liberal Party.

A parliamentary inquiry held in 1910 found that Racho Petrov imported large amounts of money from various state funds in interest at the Bulgarian National Bank, which he credited to his personal funds. Apart from the interest on the account, he was assigned income of much speculation in currency and securities made with government money. In a state of conflict of interests considerable sums in bonds on the Bulgarian government loans were moisture. Such abuses were common to ministers during that period.

Racho Petrov is the founder and first president of the created in 1908 Union of Reserve Officers, which he headed until 1911. During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) he was appointed commander of the fortified post - Seimen Tarnovo, and later was assigned to Headquarters. On 2 August 1913 was promoted to Lieutenant General. During Second Balkan War commanded the 3rd Army (from 12 June 1913), which fought the Serbian army in the direction of Pirot.

During World War I (1915 -1918) was appointed Governor-General of the Macedonian Military zone. In 1916, he was assigned to the Headquarters of the army. In 1917, appeared in stock on his own.

After the war during the government of Alexander Stamboliyski (1920), Racho Petrov was trialed and put in prison. He spent four years in prison, then pardoned in 1924. On 6 May 1936 King Boris III honored him with the highest rank of General of Infantry.

General Racho Petrov died on 22 January 22 1942 at station Belovo, Pazardzhik.

Racho Petrov has been married since 1887 to Sultana Pantaleeva-Hadzhiminchovich (1869-1946), known as Sultana Racho Petrova. They have 3 children: Maria, Vlada and Blagoi. Marriage is not going well and in 1919 they divorced. Racho Petrov has a lover - Serb Mrs. Balugchich, and Sultana Racho Petrova according to some sources was mistress of Ferdinand I, which has helped the rapid career Racho Petrov.

 

Dimitar Petkov

Dimitar Nikolov Petkov (2 November 1858 - 11 March 1907), known as Tootles, is Bulgarian politician and leader of the People's Liberal Party. He topped the 27th government of Bulgaria (1906-1907). Dimitar Petkov was the father of agricultural politicians Nikola Petkov and Petko Petkov.

Dimitar Petkov was born in the village Bashkyoy, Tulcha district, but comes from a family of emigrants from the village Voynyagovo, Karlovo. In 1875 he went to Romania, and a year later took part in the Serbo-Turkish War (1876) with the band of Panayot Khitov. During the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) he was a volunteer and participated in the battles of Stara Zagora and Shipka. Wounded, Petkov lost his left hand.

After the war, Dimitar Petkov was clerk in the Ministry of Interior. As a supporter of the Liberal Party, he opposed the Regime of credentials, whence was convicted and remained in prison from 1882 to 1884. After his release, became a close associate of Stefan Stambolov and joined the created by him during 1886 People's Liberal Party. In Stambolov's government Petkov acted as mayor of Sofia (1888-1893 ). Chairman of Parliament (1892-1893) and (1893-1894). Chairman of the IV Grand National Assembly (1893).

After the death of Dimitar Grekov in 1901, Dimitar Petkov headed the People's Liberal Party and became Interior Minister in the government of Racho Petrov (1903-1906) and at the end of 1906 he toppled the government.

A parliamentary inquiry held in 1910 found that Dimitar Petkov paid money from the Fund for assistance to refugees from Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, which he ruled in his capacity as Interior Minister, at a personal interest expended to the Bulgarian National Bank. After his death, with that money continued to dispose the Guardian of his children. Such abuses were common to ministers during that period.

On 11 March 1907 Petkov was assassinated by political opponents at Tsar Liberator's square in Sofia. He was buried beside the grave of Stefan Stambolov killed in similar circumstances.

Dimitar Petkov was married on 20 July 1886 for Catherine Rizova (1869-1937) from Bitolya, sister of his friend Dimitar Rizov. They have four children - Radka, Sofia, Petko and Nikola.

 

Picture 1: Sample illustration on the text above.

(i). Stefan Stambolov, Gen. Racho Petrov, Dimitar Petkov — those are bearers of the popular vote in post-Liberation Bulgaria, many times indicted for their strict anti-government policies and two of them died from violent death.

 

 

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