(en) OBITUARY: GEORGI GRIGORIEV (BALKANSKI)

Calbayram H (hcalba@essex.ac.uk)
Tue, 11 Mar 1997 16:16:45 +0000 (GMT)


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[The following article is taken from FREEDOM paper, 8th March 1997.]

OBITUARY

GEORGI GRIGORIEV (BALKANSKI)

The veteran Bulgarian anarchist Georgi Grigoriev has died at the age of 90 in Sofia. He began to call himself an anarchist from the age of 14, and a year later joined the Anarchist Communist Federation of Bulgaria (FACB) which had been founded in 1919.

Emerging from semi-clandestinity, the anarchist movement began to develop among both urban and rural workers and among both youth and intellectuals. The first conference of the FACB unified the anarchist-inspired revolutionary movement and gave it a powerful impetus. >From an insignifican movement of small groups and closed circles, the
FACB began to develop into a mass movement. The four regional unions of the FACB arranged regular educational speaking tours and propaganda meetings in all cities and villages. The FACB itself was secret and restricted to militants. Governmental repression began to hit the movement un der the rule of President Stambolijski, whose police began to arrest anarchist militants, shoot them in the back of the head and then announce that they had been killed trying to escape. This was just a prelude to far worse political violence. Fascits organising inside the army were preparing a *coup d'etat* and in their secret League of Regular Army Officers plotted to liquidate the anarchist movement as a preliminary move before the coup.

On 26th March 1923, the army attacked an anarchist meeting in the town of Yambol. Heavy fighting broke out, and the town was shelled with heavy artillery by the military. In the aftermath 27 anarchists were shot by the army. Three months later, on 9th June, the coup took place and Stambolijski was murdered by the fascits. The anarchists tried to resist, and at Kilifarevo rose in insurrection. The Communist Party refused to join in armed struggle against the fascits and left the anarchists to their fate. Later, on orders from Moscow, the communists rose in their turn. The uprising failed, even though the anarchists had again taken to arms. The aftermath in the following weeks and months as horrendous, with 35,000 murdered by the fascits.

Georgi himself narrowly escaped a murder bid by a royalist gang in 1925 and was forced to take refuge in Czechoslovakia. Returning to Bulgaria for a while, he then became an agronomics student in France. Here he joined a large number of Bulgarian anarchists who had fled through Yugaslavia and Austria. Most of the group settled in Toulouse and this 35-strong group, of which Georgi was a member, under the name of Hadjiev, in conjunction with comrades in Paris and Beziers carried out an important work of political elaboration and the drafting of a programme for the FACB. They also set up an iad committee for anarchist prisoners in Bulgaria.

Returning to Bulgaria after an amnesty in 1930, Grigoriev and the others set up a secret group in Sofia. The work of agitation culminated in the clandestine national conference of the FACB in 1932, held in the forest in a bend of the river near Lovech. The protection of the conference was assured by a group under the supervision of electro-engineer Boris Yanev, who from the boughts of a huge tree was in communication with sentries posted all around. The ninety delegates themselves had arrived at Lovech as delegates to a teetotallers conference, which had allowed them a 50% reduction in travel costs! Grigoriev himself chaired the conference. The conference was a major step in the reconstitution of the FACB, confirmed in another secret conference held in the mountains in September 1933. But in 1934 the repression increased again and the military re-established its grip. Once more Grigoriev fled to France.

On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War the Bulgarian anarchist movement, both in exile and underground in Bulgaria, gave their support to the Spanish anarchist movement. Thirty militants managed to defy the pact of non-intervention and entered Spain either by boat or over the Pyranees. Grigoriev himself was present as delagate of the FACB at the joint conference of the anarcho-syndicalist union the CNT and the anarchist specific organisation the FAI, in November 1936.

Returning on visits to Bulgaria in 1938 and 1939, Grigoriev was arrested, spending time in prison and then concentration camp until liberation on 19th September 1944. The FACB began to reorganise, but there was only a year's grace before the communists clamped down on them. A thousand militants were put in concentration camps, some for many years. Grigoriev evaded capture, fleeing to France once more. Here, under the pseudonym of Balkanski, he took an active part in the exile organisation of the Bulgarian Anarchist Union as well as participating in anarchist activities in France. He brought out two books in French, HISTORY OF THE BULGARIAN ANARCHIST MOVEMENT IN BULGARIA and NATIONAL LIBERATION AND SOCIAL REVOLUTION, a fascinating account of the anarchist-inspired insurrection in Macedonia in 1903 when the uprising against the Turks sought to go beyond 'nationalism' to the establishment of anarchist communism. He also undertook a key role in the establishment of the International of Anarchist Federations which reunited the French, the Spanish and the Bulgarians, among others.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Grigoriev returned to Bulgaria where he was reunited with his family that he had not seen for forty years. He took an active part in the resurgence of the Bulgarian movement and, above all, in the founding of the Bulgarian Anarchist Federation.

Georgi Grigoriev, anarchist, born 1906, died 12th October 1996 at Sofia.

Nick Heath

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