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The unknown history of Bulgarians in Tavria

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The life and destiny of the Bulgarian settlers in Tavria, whose number approximates 40,000 people, and who live on the territory of today's Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, are rarely the subject of research and discussion. The lack of sufficient publicity on the topic leads to the misconception that the Bessarabian and Taurian Bulgarians are one and the same diaspora.

In fact, Taurian Bulgarians are a much smaller group than Bulgarians in Bessarabia. The process of their emigration began during the Russo-Turkish wars from 1769 to 1878, and continued after September 9, 1944.

Vladimir Kaloyanov

In his work "The Price of Bulgarianness in Tavria" Dr. Vladimir Kaloyanov answers a number of questions related to the demographic, economic and social development of this smaller Bulgarian community. The subject of his research is a specific 30-year period in the early 20th century:

"I am referring to the period from 1917 to 1945, because from 1917 onwards the Russian Empire began its attempts to assimilate us”, Kaloyanov explains in an interview with Radio Bulgaria. “With this book I try to show how not to make mistakes. My goal is for it to reach the schools. This story should serve as a lesson on how Bulgarians and Bulgarianness abroad can survive. Because of this book, although I do not regret writing it, I can no longer travel to Ukraine, as I risk being detained by the Russians on my way to my hometown of Melitopol. "

The Chairman of the State Archives Agency, Associate Professor Mihail Gruev, pointed out some of the indisputable merits of this work, which fill a significant period in the field of history.

Mihail Gruev

"Vladimir Kaloyanov's research is in an indefinite complex genre. It unites history, demography, ethnography, but also personal destinies of people. I have tried to compare it with other studies and authors who have dealt with this topic, and I must admit that the work of Mr. Kaloyanov has a number of contributions related to the earliest dating of Bulgarian settlers to Wallachia and Russia, which occurred at the end of the Russo-Turkish war /1769-1774/. The contribution of Vladimir Kaloyanov's research is that it sheds new light on the history of the Holodomor . According to him, it is about the loss of between 7 and 10 million people of the population of Ukraine, who died as a result of two of its three waves - in the period 1921-23 and 1932-33”.

For almost 30 years, an Association for Relations with the Bessarabian and Taurian Bulgarians entited “Rodolyubets” has been operational in Bulgaria whose goal is to make this community more visible in Bulgaria:

"Over the years, our association has worked and continues to work to build and maintain cultural ties with the Bulgarians in Bessarabia and Tavria”, explains the association co-chairman Galin Georgiev. “Our activity is limited to several main points. First of all, this is the Day of the Bessarabian Bulgarians, which we celebrate on October 29."

Galin Georgiev

Among the successes achieved by Rodolyubets, Galin Georgiev points out the solution of a serious problem related to Decree 103 of the Council of Ministers, which allows citizens from Ukraine, Moldova and other countries to study in Bulgarian universities.

"There were a lot of problems with this decree one year ago. It so happened that those who already have Bulgarian citizenship were excluded from the candidates who could take advantage of this opportunity. Our association held a number of meetings in the Committee on Bulgarians Abroad in the National Assembly, as well as with Vice President Iliana Iotova. Our insistence has been successful and the problem has already been solved."

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: BGNES, archive, personal archive
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