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Vasil Levski

Vasil Levski, born as Vasil Ivanov Kunchev (July 6, 1837 (O.S.) (July 18, 1837 (N.S.)) – February 6, 1873 (O.S.) (February 18, 1873 (N.S.)) was a Bulgarian revolutionary, ideologist, strategist and theoretician of the Bulgarian national revolution, leader of the struggle for liberation from Ottoman rule. Levski was born in Karlovo, a prosperous center of craftindustry, in 1837. He took the vows of a deacon at the age of twenty four but later abandoned religion in order to join the liberation movement.

In 1862 Levski went to Serbia to enlist as a volunteer in the Bulgarian Legion raised by another Bulgarian revolutionary, Georgi Rakovski. Between 1862-1868 he participated in all Bulgarian armed assaults against the Ottoman Empire.

At the end of the 1860s Levski developed a revolutionary theory, which meant a decisive step forward for the Bulgarian liberation movement. The theory saw the national liberation revolution as an armed rising of all Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire. The insurrection was to be prepared, controlled and co-ordinated by a central revolutionary organisation. This organisation was to include a number of local revolutionary committees in all parts of Bulgaria and was supposed to operate fully independent from any foreign powers.

Levski also determined the future form of government in liberated Bulgaria - a democratic republic, standing on the principles of the Human and Citizen Rights Charter of the French Revolution. That was the only document hitherto known to guarantee the individual freedom of expression, speech and association.

In 1869 Levski set about setting up local committees. By the middle of 1872 he had succeeded in establishing a strong network of committees in a number of Bulgarian towns and villages which were in constant contact with and subordination to the clandestine government in the town of Lovech. The committees provided weapons, organised combat detachments, and engaged in punitive actions against Ottoman officials and Bulgarian traitors.

In May 1872, the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee and the Internal Revolutionary Organization, convinced that a coordination of the efforts would be for the general good, merged into one organization.

In the autumn of 1872 the Ottoman police picked up the trail of several committees in northeastern Bulgaria, including the organisation's headquarters in Lovech after activists of the revolutionary organisation robbed a Ottoman post-office to procure money for weapons. The numerous arrests of revolutionaries threatened to destroy the organisation. In an attempt to save its documentation, Levski was captured by the Ottoman authorities and hanged in Sofia in February 1873.

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