Karavelov and Levski

Botev shared the concepts of Karavelov and Levski as regards the tasks and goals of the Bulgarian national- liberation movement and developed them further. He was even more convincing in teaching that the Bulgarian people should rely, above all, on their own forces for the achievement of national liberation. Botev supported the idea of a Balkan federation, but added that it could be carried out, not by negotiations between the existing bourgeois-monarchic governments, but through a fraternal agreement of the free Balkan peoples.

At the end of 1874, Botev began to publish the newspaper Ztiame (Banner) with the aim of uniting the forces of the Bulgarian national-revolutionary movement which had been dispersed after Levski’s death. When an uprising broke out in Bosna and Herzegovina in June 1875, Botev took the initiative for the election of a new Central Committee. The Central Committee, headed by Botev, started feverish preparations for an uprising which was to break out that very same autumn, but the task proved too much for the Committee. Only the district of Stara Zagora attempted a more serious revolt which was promptly put down by the authorities.

The April Epopee (1876)

After the suppression of the uprising in Stara Zagora, a new Central Committee was formed in the Romanian town of Giurgiu. The country was divided into four revolutionary districts, with chief voevodes at the head of each, called Apostles. The Apostles and their assistants arrived in the districts assigned to them as early as the beginning of 1876, and immediately got down to work. They were all young and capable men, selflessly devoted to their motherland, who saw the meaning of their life solely in the struggle for Bulgaria’s liberation. They toured the country tirelessly, restored the former revolutionary committees and set up new ones, supplied arms, carried out mass propaganda about the need of an uprising, trained the members of the Committees in the art of war.

The Panagyurishte (Fourth) and Turnovo (First) revolutionary districts were best prepared for the uprising. The Apostle of the Panagyurishte revolutionary district was Panayot Volov, who subsequently voluntarily gave up his leadership in favour of Georgi Benkovski, his first assistant, who imposed himself with his inexhaustible energy, strong will, resolve and outstanding qualities of an organizer. Almost the entire population in the district took part in the preparation of the uprising. The people sold their land and livestock in order to buy arms, women were sewing uniforms for the insurgents and were embroidering banners, baking rusks and making cartridges for their rifles. Secret mobilization lists were drawn up, a detailed plan of action was mapped out. On April 14, 1876, a national assembly was convened in the Oborishte locality in the mountains, not far from Panagyurishte, which was attended by 56 representatives of the secret committees in the district and by over 200 assistants and armed guards.

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