Gueorghi Cheitanov

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Born at Yambol in Bulgaria in 1896, Gueorgui Cheitanov was to prove to be
one of the most outstanding figures (and there were many) of Bulgarian
anarchism, and of its specific organisation, the Anarchist Communist
Federation. A brilliant pupil at high school, from an early age he possessed a
rebellious nature. He gravitated very early on in life towards the anarchist
movement. At the age of 17 he burnt the archives of the local court and was
forced to flee into exile after escaping from prison, arriving in Paris at the
age of 18. Here he met up with many other Bulgarian anarchists like Varban
Kilifarski, who taught at La Ruche, the free school and cultural centre set up
by the French anarchist Sebastien Faure.

He returned secretly to Bulgaria in 1914, continuing his revolutionary
propaganda. Arrested and tortured by the police, he escaped again and between
1917 and 1918 was the only Bulgarian revolutionary to go to Moscow at the start
of the Russian revolution, crossing the Danube, Romania, the Russian trenches,
Ukraine and Russia disguised as a soldier. In Moscow he made the acquaintance
of the old Marxist Plekhanov and many other well known Marxists and Bolsheviks,
who asked him to take charge of a Bulgarian language edition of a revolutionary
journal. He became friends with many Russian anarchists and soon realised the
real counter-revolutionary role of the Bolsheviks. He decided to return to
Bulgaria with the favourable revolutionary circumstances after the collapse of
the Bulgarian front and the soldiers' revolt. Crossing the Ukraine, he fell
into the hands of the white Army of reactionary Russians, but managed to escape
from the firing squad! Arriving back in Bulgaria, he contacted the anarchist
movement, most of whom were forced to operate underground. He issued his famous
open letter Appeal to the Anarchists as well as a Manifesto to Revolutionaries
where he developed a clear anarchist position in favour of the Russian
Revolution.

He participated in many armed actions against the State, escaping from
prison twice in spectacular circumstances. At the age of 26 he took a look at
the guerrilla tactics of the movement and offered a self-criticism in
describing them as inadequate to the social struggles developing in Bulgaria.
What was needed, he felt, was mass organisation and action, not just in the
workplace but in all areas of life.

A very talented propagandist, orator and poet, he exercised a great and
charismatic influence over many. As an orator he avoided the usual tricks,
communicating in a clear and concise way.

He participated in the liberation of the notable anarchist Petar Maznev from
prison, and lectured the policemen captured in this incident, on anarchism and
the social situation. These cops were freed after promising that they would
resign from the force- they kept their promise! Maznev subsequently died of TB
due to his imprisonment and underground existence. Buried at his native
village, his funeral was the occasion for a massive demonstration in which the
anarchists of the region participated. Cheitanov delivered a passionate speech
which was much remarked upon and helped in the rapid development of the
anarchist movement in the area.

Cheitanov contributed to Free Society, the theoretical review of the
Anarchist Communist Federation., as well as to the literary review Plamak
(Flame) which influenced many intellectuals. He also edited the underground
newspaper Acratia between 1924-1925 which came out 3 times.

In 1923 a military coup led to the butchery of 35,000 workers and peasants.
The armed resistance that followed ended with the bomb attack by the Communist
Party on Sofia cathedral which was aimed at the country's elite. A massive
campaign of repression was then unleashed by the fascists and military against
the revolutionary movement. Special police detachments were set up to hunt
Cheitanov down. All the guerrillas united into a single detachment, being
forced to disperse towards the end of May. Cheitanov and his companion in love
and struggle, Mariola Sirakova, were caught in an ambush and arrested. They
were taken to Belovo railway station and shot with 12 other prisoners on 2nd
June 1925. Cheitanov was officially recognised by the post-war Communist regime
which named streets after him and erected a statue in his home town of Yambol.
This did not stop them from persecuting Cheitanov's comrades still alive,
sending many to prisons and concentration camps!

Mariola Sirakova

Born in Kilifarevo in 1904, the student-actress Mariola Sirakova belonged to
a well-off family. She revolted from an early age against her social background
and joined the anarchist movement at a young age. After her martyr's death, her
younger brother Georgu carried on the struggle for anarchism and was imprisoned
by the Communists in the concentration camp of Belene.

Ivan Nicolov

One of the most popular speakers and polemicists of the Anarchist
Communist Federation, Ivan Nicolov was born in 1900 in Radomir. He worked as a
teacher, and as an orator took part in many public meetings organised by the
anarchists throughout Bulgaria. Poor and modest, he always wore an old
soldier's cap. He had the endearing habit of keeping newspaper cuttings up his
sleeves, which he used to back up his polemics with political opponents, in
particular the Communist Party. He was very popular among peasants and workers.
After the Sofia cathedral bombing, he was arrested and burnt alive in the
furnace of the National Security (equivalent of CID) in April 1925.

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