Public Initiative to Rescue the Home of Bulgarian Revival Hero Ilarion Dragostinov

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The home of Ilarion Dragostinov – Bulgarian Revival hero and Revolutionary / Apostle from the Sliven Revolutionary District – has been destroyed. The State, which owns it, has no money to repair it. A posting on Bivol’s wall in the social network Facebook, however, caused a strong public response. Citizens proposed to establish an initiative committee to gather the necessary 300,000 levs (500,000, according to the Ministry of Culture) for the restoration of the historical site.

Bivol published a from-the-scene photo of one of its own reporters with the resident of Veliko Tarnovo Stefan Stoyanov, who expressed his indignation from the carelessness of institutions. Of all leaders of the April Uprising in Bulgaria (against the Ottoman rule – editor’s note), only four people have fallen in a shootout battle against the Ottoman subjugator. Ilarion Dragostinov was killed in the Sliven area of the Balkan mountain range and his heirs donated his home to the State to become a museum for patriotic education of generations of Bulgarians.

Stefan Stoyanov explains that he spoke with ministers, deputy ministers and State servants from the Ministry of Culture, has received promises to turn the house into a museum, but nothing followed.

“Please, Facebook friends, light a candle for Ilarion Dragostinov because he respected history and wanted his country to have a future!” Stoyanov urges in his comment. Our call was heard. The post about the home of Apostle Ilarion Dragostinov gathered about 5,500 likes and was shared over 1,860 times so far.

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 08.52.42

Catch 22 in the Ministry of Culture – There Was a Decision to Use European Funding, but There Is No Way It Can Happen

Bivol sent a request to the Ministry of Culture about the case and received a reply that the home of Ilarion Dragostinov is in an extremely poor condition, but there is no money for its restoration. The entire Fund for Restoration and Conservation of Intangible Values, including archaeological sites, is 500, 000 levs, from a total budget of the Ministry of Culture of 118 million levs, explained the Ministry.

The Ministry has attempted to apply for funding from European programs and collided with Catch 22. Europe only funds projects that have the status to provide “cultural services” and are a “cultural destination”. The home had no such status. On the other hand, there was no way to change its status because it was not in good condition. We need to point out here that a few years ago the house was intact and had a roof, but it collapsed due to total lack of interest and lack of any concern on the part of its owner i.e. the Ministry of Culture.

Bivol offers a simple solution – the funds to be provided by all parliamentary parties, which present themselves as “always ready and willing patriots”. Instead of general blabber about future school lessons in patriotism and physical education, “the Developing Europeans” (the centrist Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB – editor’s note) and the “Patriots” should give party (i.e. State subsidies’) money for real patriotic work and engage in some physical labor as personal example. This way, there will be some benefit from their involvement in the redistribution of taxpayers’ money for party subsidies and salaries of lawmakers. Isn’t the Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo from GERB and isn’t he a neighbor of the sacred ruins in the nearby Arbanassi? At the same time, he not only allowed this disgrace, but for years now, does not care about it, though is happening next door! Just a month ago, the last remains of the home have collapsed before the eyes of a mother and child. We must specify that this is not simply an issue about a material site, just some house, as the fate of this house is a measure whether we will keep the memory and legacy of our ancestors alive for the next generations.

And instead of hollow arrangements and jingoistic patriotism, let schools emphasize on classical education and on the true history, not the one that was replaced over ideological reasons after the arrival of the Communist regime in 1945. For students today have no idea that “patriot” (πατριώτης) is a foreign, Greek word in the Bulgarian language. That is why our great poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev bitterly ridiculed those who “decorate” themselves with this title in his immortal verses:

A patriot be – for knowledge, freedom,

The soul’s too small a price to pay!

Mind you, not his soul, my brothers,

The nation’s soul he’ll give away!

***

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