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ANDREY LYAPCHEV ~ POLITICIAN AND STATESMAN

Author: Alexander Yanakiev

 

Andrey Lyapchev (1866-1933) was a Bulgarian political figure and Prime Minister. A strong participant in the Democratic party, during 1923 he joined with Democratic Alliance and led its moderate wing until his death. He was head of Government in the XXI (1926-1928), XXII (1928-1930) and XXIII (1930-1931) National Assemblies.

 

Early years

Andrey Lyapchev was born in the town of Resen, Macedonia, which is part of Ottoman Empire. He derived his genus from Vlachs community that was established in the city from 18th century during the forceful assimilation of Vlachs in Muglen and other villages (today Notiâ, in Greece). His father, Tase (Lyapcheto), was a potter and one of the prominent citizens and a supporter of independent Bulgarian Church. Andrey is the sixth son.

Andrey Lyapchev began studies in his hometown, but after April uprising 1876 the local school, as well as many other Bulgarian schools in Macedonia, was closed. For three years he helped his brother Georgi, who takes care of the family after the death of their father, in his shop in Bitola. During 1879 Andrey Lyapchev is recorded in the real high school in Bitola, and two years later moved to the newly created Bulgarian men's high school of Thessaloniki. There his teacher was Trayko Kitanchev, also from Resen, who had a strong influence on him. After the dismissal of Kitanchev during 1884, Lyapchev left Thessaloniki high school and moved in Plovdiv, then the chief town of Eastern Rumelia.

After the Unification act from 6 September 1885, and the following notes from Russia in the summer of 1886 that led to the removal of King Alexander I Battenberg, Andrey Lyapchev aligned with the group of extreme nationalists led by Zahari Stoyanov, Dimitar Petkov and Dimitar Rizov, all important figures among Macedonian immigrants at that time. There he participated in a beating inflicted on conservative Todor Burmov, although Lyapchev himself later denied his participation in the case.

In the coming months tensions between the Government and the Macedonian emigration increased after major Kosta Panitsa was accused of preparing a coup and was sentenced to death. In the summer of 1888 Dimitar Rizov publish articles highly critical to Stefan Stambolov, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Arrest warrant was also issued for Lyapchev, but he managed to leave the country.

Lyapchev spent the next years listening to lectures on Economy and History in Zurich, Berlin and Paris, although not in a formal education. He received there a Certificate of Attendance.

 

Family

In April 1911 Andrey Lyapchev married Constanta Petrovich in Vienna. During the Balkan Wars she was a voluntary nurse, and later participates actively in the Union for Protection of Children, whose Chairman she is until her death in 1942. The Lyapchev's family have no children.

 

Political career

After the fall of Stambolov in May 1894, Lyapchev returned to Sofia. At the beginning of 1895 he began to write in the emitted by Dimitar Rizov left opposition newspaper "Young Bulgaria" and became one of its main collaborators. At this time, he felt that the normalization of relations with Russia is crucial, and offers some original ideas for achieving abdication of Ferdinand I in favour of his son, new-born heir Boris. Union between Serbia and Bulgaria, and even promulgation for Republic were some other ideas that Lyapchev advertized.

In March 1895 Andrey Lyapchev is included in the newly created Macedonian Committee ("Varhoven Makedonski Komitet - VMK), initially as Secretary and later as vice-President. He was member of the Supreme Committee until 1898. He made some attempts to coordinate with IMARO, but tensions between the two organizations grew. After 1897 Lyapchev gradually withdrew from the management of the VMK, but continues to cooperate with the organization until its closure in January 1903. He is actively involved in the creation of the journal "Pryaporets" printed as authority of the Committee, and even for short was chief editor. After the dissolution of VMK, Andrey Lyapchev attempts to mediate between the two wings, but without much success. Actively participated in the public campaign in defence of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia after Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising and in raising funds to help the refugees.

As well as many other participants in the VMK (Trayko Kitanchev, Aleko Konstantinov, Danail Nikolaev) Andrey Lyapchev sympathize with the Democratic party, founded by Petko Karavelov in 1896. Lyapchev probably knew Karavelov from the times of high school in Thessaloniki, but was officially introduced in the close circles by Aleko Konstantinov. By that time he became a close friend of the family.

Lyapchev turns out as one of the main figures in "Pryaporets", newspaper of the Democratic Party. He was among the main actors involved in the campaign against the scheme on natural tithe introduced in 1900 from Radoslavov's government . During the Government of Karavelov (1901-1902) Lyapchev was appointed in the financial Department and is responsible for direct taxation. He organized the abolition of the tithe. After the death of Petko Karavelov in early 1903, the Democratic Party was headed by Alexander Malinov and vice-chairmen become Andrey Lyapchev and Mikhail Takev. Lyapchev became known as the leading expert of the Democrats in the area of economic policy.

 

First cabinet of Malinov

At the beginning of 1908, Prince Ferdinand appointed Alexander Malinov to gather a stand-alone cabinet of the Democratic Party and Lyapchev participated as Minister for Trade and Agriculture. At the subsequent elections to XIV National Assembly he was first elected as MP.

Andrey Lyapchev played an active role in the Independence of Bulgaria. On 6 September 1908, Bulgarian Government confiscated railways in Eastern Rumelia owned by the Ottoman Empire and operated by the company Eastern Railways. Relations between the two countries become tense, and they conduct partial mobilization. On 15 September in Vienna, at a meeting of Prince Ferdinand with Malinov and Lyapchev, is decided unilaterally for a Declaration of Independence (22 September 1908).

After the first unsuccessful consultations with the Ottoman Empire, on 18 October Lyapchev arrives in Istanbul at the head of Bulgarian delegation to settle disputes between the two countries. Negotiations have been blocked by requests for large financial compensation from the Ottoman government, which dragged for more than five months. On 6 April 1909 Andrey Lyapchev and Rifat Pasha, Foreign Minister of the Ottoman Empire, signed a memorandum for the recognition of Bulgarian independence.

Demanded by the Ottoman government is compensation from 125 million leva which is later deducted from compensations due from the Ottoman Empire for Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878. However, Bulgaria paid to Russia 88 million leva financed by a loan to the Russian Central Bank. The negotiations with the company Eastern Railways continue several months and ended with an agreement on 13 June 1909, when the company received approximately 2 million leva additional compensation for the nationalization of the railways.

 

Second cabinet of Malinov

On 18 September (5 September) 1910 Alexander Malinov make changes to the Cabinet, and Andrey Lyapchev become Finance Minister. He held the post for about half a year, but still manage to consider certain measures. By law is created Bulgarian Central Cooperative Bank to credit the preferential cooperatives in the country. Reduced are some import duties, mostly of raw materials for industry. Probably the most important measure is to promote a certain degree of financial autonomy for the municipalities in transfer proceedings from cattle duties, school levy and road tax.

At the beginning of 1911 Democratic Party lost elections for district councils and King Ferdinand pressure on Malinov to resign. In March 1911, a new Cabinet is composed by coalition from the People's party and Progressive-Liberal party, headed by Ivan Geshov. It is believed that one major reason for the change of Government is preparing for the creation of Balkan Union. The influential Macedonian group in the Democratic Party, led by Andrey Lyapchev and Mikhail Takev, thus constitutes an obstacle for a possible agreement with Serbia on Macedonia's sharing arrangements between the two countries.

 

Period of wars

At the start of the Balkan Wars in October 1912 Lyapchev is enlisted for a volunteer and worked in the main headquarters of Macedonian-Adrianople detachment. He was dismissed in January 1913 with the rank of Junior officer. The upcoming months Lyapchev spent travelling in many of the newly librated lands in Macedonia and Thrace.

At the end of the year after the dissolution of Parliament, a new transaction is held in the beginning of 1914 and Lyapchev elected again as MP. On the eve of WWI the Democratic Party is declared for the preservation of neutrality of the country and in the coming years, it remained in opposition to the Government of Vasil Radoslavov.

 

End of World War I

At the beginning of 1918 the military situation of Bulgaria is deteriorated, and the Government of Radoslavov is highly compromised. On 21 June Alexander Malinov formed a new Cabinet (Third cabinet of Malinov), in which agreement is made to include only the Democratic and Radical-Democratic party. Andrey Lyapchev again became Minister of Finance.

The situation in the country is very serious because of the unfavorable international conditions. In the first months the Government has cautiously obtained termination of the war. The events are accelerated after 15 September when great offensive is initiated by the Entante forces in Macedonia. Andrey Lyapchev, together with Minister of War Gen. Sava Savov, visited our headquarters in Kyustendil where witnessed personally to the plight and disorganization among the armed forces. After his return in Sofia the Government decide, without knowledge of Tsar Ferdinand who was on tour in Skopje, to open negotiations for a cease-fire.

The delegation for the negotiations is guided by Andrey Lyapchev and includes also general Ivan Rusev and diplomat Simeon Radev. They travel to Thessaloniki on 25 September accompanied by Dominic Murphy, Consul of United States in Sofia. On 29 September 1918 Lyapchev and Entante forces Commander general Louis d'Espere sign a Thessaloniki truce which terminate the participation of Bulgaria in WWI. Although there were not received guarantees of post-war borders for Bulgaria and around 100,000 soldiers were transmitted in captivity, the Bulgarian delegation achieves one of their principal objectives - not to permit occupation of the country from Serbian and Greek troops.

After his return from Thessaloniki, on 2 October 1918 Andrey Lyapchev deliver speech to the Parliament, which shall refer the matter of the Tsar Ferdinand's abdication and urges all parties to support it. The next day, Ferdinand abdicates in favour of his son Boris III.

After ultimatum request of the Bulgarian occupation forces to leave Dobrudzha, which contravenes the Armistice of Thessalonica, Alexander Malinov resigned. New coalition Government is composed on 28 November, headed by People's party Teodor Teodorov. The relations between Democrats and BANU in conjunction with the Vladajsko uprising are apprehensive. Furthermore, after the opposition from Democratic Party at the end of 1918 to vote Amnesty for participants in the rebellion and under the pressure of farmers, the Democrats are not included in the second Cabinet of Teodorov established on 7 May 1919. After refusing to sign Teodorov's Neuilly contract, the Parliament assign new coalition cabinet led by leaders of BANU and Aleksandar Stamboliyski as Premier, who signed a peace treaty.

 

Government of BANU

At the parliamentary elections of 28 March 1920, BANU has failed to obtain a majority in Parliament despite pressures from dominating farmers in the Government. By decision of the Parliament they cancel the election of 13 members of the opposition in order to have majority. The representatives of the other parties were also deducted from the composition of the Government.

In the coming months, the Democratic Party, the largest opposition force, strongly opposes the Government's actions and anti-constitutional Alexander Stamboliiski. As Lyapchev writes himself: "We are threatened by these people, and if they continue this mode of persecutions and partisan lawlessness, it will further decline our merits as a nation". Moreover, he criticized the policy of the Cabinet as incompetent, which has led to high inflation, a reduced collection of taxes, and inefficiency of the established Employment service.

Yet with the establishment of autonomous Government of BANU negotiations has commenced on common actions of opposition parties. With the crucial contribution of Andrey Lyapchev and Atanas Burov, in the summer of 1921 agreement between the Democratic and the National-Progressive party has almost been reached, but negotiations failed at the last minute. Consequently, on 15 April 1922 the agreement was ratified on joint action and joint future governance of both parties with the Radical party congregating the union. So is formed the Constitutional Bloc, where Lyapchev plays a central role.

On 20 September Lyapchev is called for questioning in the police, and two days later his home is seized and ransacked for illicit documents. He was placed under practical house arrest. On 26 September, together with other leaders from the opposition, he was arrested without a court order and in breach of his deputy immunity.

In October, in violation of the Constitution Act, BANU convene an extraordinary court to judge participants in all Governments catastrophes from 1911 to 1918. In November was underwent referendum which declared all those Governments guilty. On 1 December 1922 detainees were moved to Shumen prison, where they spend the coming months. The judicial process is not proceeding henceforth since there are enough legal arguments to the conviction of the accused. As an objection, the former American Consul Dominic Murphy, who is expected to testify the unwillingness of Malinov and Lyapchev to conclude a separatist peace, announces the contrary and the accusation refused to use him in the trial.

 

Government of Aleksandar Tsankov

After 9 June coup d'état in 1923, the Government of BANU has been ousted and new Cabinet is composed, led by the leader of National Alliance Aleksandar Tsankov. The Government recognize representatives of all political parties except the BANU and Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP), but have a leading role as National Alliance in accord with the Military Union.

Relations between the leaders of the old parties and new Government are ambiguous. Old politicians approve the removal of the system of BANU, but not the significant influence of military and Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) under new management. The Government seeks to unite the old parties to provide a more stable political support, but they will trust the most of their leaders. It slows down for a couple of weeks their release from prison, and the extraordinary law in which they should be sued, has been repealed only at the beginning of next year.

In this scenario, Andrey Lyapchev tries to coalesce between both parties. He make every effort not to be associated with illegal actions of the perpetrators of the coup and even stated: "I think those who drowned once their hands should have a responsibility and do their job to the end". At the same time Lyapchev desired merging of Democratic parties. He is a supporter of this policy since the early 1920s, since he considers that there are no fundamental differences between them and this is the only way to oppose the authoritarian trends after the war.

During the weeks after the coup d'état Democrats are placed in two currents. One group, led by Andrey Lyapchev, seek the merger with other parties from Constitutional Bloc and with the National Alliance. The other, led by the leader of the party Alexander Malinov, is more cautious and prefers close ties with the Radical party.

The election in November 1923 is held under pressure from the Government, and a new coalition as Democratic Alliance ("Demokratichen Sgovor"), wins a large majority in the XXI National Assembly. The Democratic Alliance is largely based on National Alliance, with participation of Democratic and Radical party. The National-Progressive party also joined the coalition. From 173 members of the Democratic Alliance, 56 are representatives of the Democratic Party and Lyapchev became President of the joint parliamentary group.

On 22 December 1923 was elected the Supreme Council of the Democratic Alliance and Lyapchev becomes its Vice-Chairman. This action is considered a step towards centralizing the political actions of the Government and remove the parties thereto, which causes the discontent of the group around Alexander Malinov.

At the beginning of 1924 amidst increased tensions in the Democratic Alliance, Andrey Lyapchev accompanied by Atanas Burov, go to France and UK to negotiate on the Bulgarian financial commitments and to try to deduce the Government from the international isolation. In the meantime the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Aleksandar Tsankov pressures on Democrats to determine their position in relation to further strengthening the coalition. This, however, causes disunity of the Democratic party itself. At the end of March 1924, the Democratic Party is divided into two. Although many of the old leaders of the party, Alexander Girginov, Nikola Mushanov and others, remain loyal to the party leader Alexander Malinov and separate from the concert, a group of the Democratic party gathered around Andrey Lyapchev manages to establishes control over its organizational structure and the party's newspaper "Pryaporets". With this Lyapchev became the undisputed leader of the representatives of the old Democratic parties in the Democratic Alliance.

Although he held posts in concert with the Democratic Alliance, Andrey Lyapchev does not support fully the Government's policy. He did not approve the restrictions in the activities of the opposition parties imposed by "Law for Protection of the State" (ZZD). There are also disentanglement between Lyapchev and Tsankov on views in the economic field. Lyapchev endorse opposition to the strong State intervention in the economy, to the new Law to combat speculation, to high duties.

Organized by BCP on 16 April 1925, the terrorist act on the St. Nedelya Church culminates with a new wave of repression that executed without trial hundreds of supporters and sympathizers of the Communists. Discontent against the Government sharply increased, both in the country and abroad. Against Aleksandar Tsankov is announced an internal opposition, led by Andrey Lyapchev and Atanas Burov, and other influential circles supporting King Boris III, IMRO, and the Military Union. Under strong pressure, Tsankov resigned as leader of the Government and on 4 January 1926 his place is occupied by Andrey Lyapchev.

 

First Government of Andrey Lyapchev

In his programming speech on 5 January 1926 Lyapchev outlines policy guidelines in the new Government - Amnesty of political prisoners and the policy of budget savings aimed at stabilization of the economy. On that occasion an editorial in the journal "Pryaporets" wrote: "Pravitelstvo so krotce i so blago otiva nadaleko" - (in translation, that government making most conformity last longer).

In February 1926 an Act has been adopted and partial amnesty granted conditional on crimes committed after June 1923. Exempted are 7,000 prisoners including more than 1000 people convicted for offences punishable under the ZZD. At that time in prison are about 500 people convicted of ZZD, and about 500 legal proceedings under the Act have not been completed. Disputed Amnesty cases makes possible the return to the country of political emigrants, mainly farmers, and at the same time has been restored the functioning of BANU.

Political stabilization on the margins enables the Government to negotiate the conclusion of the Refugee loan at the end of 1926. Its purpose is to assist more than 250 000 Bulgarian refugees after the period of the wars that are located in serious subsistence position. The Directorate of Refugees has been created for accommodation of the emigrants, which reported directly to the Prime Minister. At the same time cases of political violence abound, often carried out by semi-legal government officials, including civil servants and military.

In February 1927 on the eve of the elections to the XXII National Assembly, Andrey Lyapchev met with a group of representatives of the illegal Communist party. With them he agreed the party to be validated under the name Workers party provided that the legal body is not formally subordinated to the Soviet Government. Organizations are recovered and pro-communist independent workers Trade Unions and Workers Youth Union become functional again.

Parliamentary elections are held on 29 May 1927. Democratic Alliance and his coalition partner National-Liberal party receive 173 of 273 seats in the XXII National Assembly. At the same time Lyapchev managed to reinforce the positions of his supporting fraction in the party at the expense of the wing of Alexander Tsankov.

At the end of 1927 Bulgaria and Greece conclude a Mollov-Kafandaris Agreement. The Bulgarian population of Belomorska Thrace shift back in Bulgaria, while ethnic Greeks from the territory of Bulgaria moved in Greece. Both parties undertake to compensate the refugees for their financial assets that remained on the territory of the other State. This further increased the number of refugees in Bulgaria while the difference in compensation payable was unfavourable to the country.

Meanwhile contradictions between the various currents of the Democratic Alliance led to prolonged crisis in 1928. Involved in pressure for elimination from the domestic opposition was Minister of War Vulkov, who played important role in the removal of Aleksandar Tsankov in 1926. He was accused in corruption and tolerating the illegal activity of VMRO. At the same time, General Vulkov was considered as close to Tsar Boris III and enjoyed influence in the army.

The crisis began on 1 March 1928 when Kimon Georgiev, Minister of Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, resigned in protest against the passive behaviour of the Cabinet in relation to the activities of VMRO. He received the support of the group around Aleksandar Tsankov that voted in Parliament against the proposed bi-lateral loan of the Government.

Andrey Lyapchev tried to deliberate between countries and crisis for longer months. In the summer of 1928 for resignation of General Vulkov shall be declared also the external Minister Atanas Burov. Lyapchev talks with Boris III, who stipulates for the removal from Cabinet of both Vulkov and Burov. At the beginning of September Lyapchev receives a mandate for the gathering-up of a new Cabinet. In the proposed composition thereof do not enter neither Ivan Vulkov nor Atanas Burov, but the proposal does not receive the support of the group in Parliament and is rejected.

Tsar Boris III proposed a new mandate for drawing up of Cabinet from the opposition leader Alexander Malinov, but not having a stable majority in Parliament, he refused. Faced with the prospect of loss of power, the various wings in the Democratic Alliance agree on timely change and on 12 September a new Government is composed where the only change is the replacement of Kimon Georgiev with Rashko Madzharov.

 

Second Government of Andrey Lyapchev

After the recent temporary conciliation in the Democratic Alliance, at the end of 1928 was adopted a stability loan to further finance the budget deficits of the Government System. As a result of the implicit condition for its conclusion, the military Minister Vulkov, however, was dismissed from his post and was sent as Ambassador to Italy.

During 1929 was underwent trial by ZZD against 52 representatives of the extremist wing in the Workers party. Convictions are relatively minor, and shortly after the process a new amnesty is forced for all convicted of ZZD in less than 15 years of prison. This again leads to discontent of Aleksandar Tsankov and increasing internal contradictions in the Democratic Alliance.

At the beginning of 1930 the Government coalition is presented poorly to the municipal elections, and then the group of Aleksandar Tsankov vote again in opposition of the censure which, however, has been rejected. At that time Lyapchev fell gravely ill himself. In order to stabilize the Government, on 15May 1930 he made changes to its composition, where Ministers are selected Aleksandar Tsankov and two of his supporters.

 

Third Government Andrey Lyapchev

At the end of the 1920s Andrey Lyapchev plays an important role in the conclusion of marriage between King Boris III and Princess Giovanna of Savoy, daughter of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III. This event is considered to be a breakthrough in the international isolation of Bulgaria after the First World War, involving large hopes of consolidation with Italy, which was a winning party in the war, but at the same time a supporter of the revision of subsequent peace treaties. This in turn gives rise to suspicions in Yugoslavia of formation of a union between Bulgaria and Italy, directed against the Mediterranean country.

Faced with the consequences of world economic crisis and inside pressures from the left opposition, on the eve of parliamentary elections in 1931, Andrey Lyapchev's Cabinet resigned. After prolonged negotiations with the Democratic party that does not result in an agreement to form a coalition, the Government at interim made only a partial change in the Cabinet, where are included two representatives of the National-Liberal party.

On 21 June 1931 the first parliamentary elections were held after 1920 that ensued in relatively normal situation. They are won by the Popular Bloc, a coalition dominated by BANU Vrabcha 1 and the Democratic party. On 28 June Andrey Lyapchev resigned and the next day sent a peaceful acknowledgement of power to the newly formed Government of Alexander Malinov.

 

Last years

After the parliamentary elections in 1931 Lyapchev's state of health worsened. He went to Berlin where it is established that he is suffering from lung cancer. During his half year absence the disagreements within the Democratic Alliance continue to increase.

Andrey Lyapchev returned to Sofia on 11 March 1932, and in May the Democratic Alliance congress is held within an air where the group of Aleksandar Tsankov permanently separated from the party. Lyapchev and Atanas Burov retain the leader's role in the other wing of the former coalition.

Although almost completely withdrawn from active political engagements, the disagreements in the Democratic Alliance play adverse effect on the deteriorating health of Lyapchev. In the autumn of 1933 he again went to treatment in Berlin and Kiel, but the disease continues to develop. At the end of October he returned to Bulgaria and died on 6 November 1933 at home on str. Krakra 21 in Sofia.

 

Pictures 1 & 2: Sample illustrations on the text above.

(i). First government of Andrei Liapchev (1926-1928), with Aleksandar Tsankov and other officials from the Democratic Alliance.

 

(ii). Second government of Andrei Liapchev (1928-1930), with Atanas Burov and other officials from the Democratic Alliance.

 

 

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