The closest collaborator of the long-years’ leader of the historical IMRO Ivan Mihailov dedicated the biggest part of her life to him and opened the doors of her home at Rome for the journalists from Focus. She agreed to speak for the first time to the Macedonian society.
In the street via Ponza 6/7 in the neighbourhood of Montesacro, north/west Rome many secrets are hidden concerning Macedonia, our people and the history of our land. In this place since 1958 till his death in 1990 using different name and illegally lived Ivan (Vancho) Mihailov the leader of IMRO who the Macedonian historians are pointing out as one of the contradictory persons in our history. Today in the house in via Ponza 6/7 is living Vida Boeva Popova-the personal secretary of Mihailov or as she said his collaborator since 1963 till his death with her husband Anton and their son Naiden Ivan.
Vida Boeva Popova (68 years) graduated in political sciences at the University of Rome. She dedicated her entire life to Vancho Mihailov, IMRO, and the Macedonian movement. She knows everything about the life and the work of Vancho Mihailov being a direct witness and listener to his retells of his revolutionary deeds, murders and assaults in the name of Macedonia.
Focus negotiated for a long time with Boeva to make this interview. She thought for some time and agreed to open her soul. She received us as guests in her home, where Vancho had spent the last 32 years of his life. Because of our journalistic curiosity to penetrate in the world of the historical leader of IMRO, we agreed not to enter in polemics with Mrs. Boeva concerning some historical constants in the positions of hers and of Mihailov about the ethno-national character of the Macedonian people.
Accidentally or not, the interview was made on August 27, the day on which in 1896 at Shtip Ivan Mihailov was born. On August 31 is the anniversary of the event in 1924, when the leader of IMRO, who had the leadership in the organization before Mihailov - Todor Aleksandrov.
On September 5, 1990, on the age of 94 at Rome died from a natural death Vancho Mihailov.
We had all the preconditions for a long and sapid conversation.
The love took me to Rome.
Focus: Firstly, will you tell us who is Vida Boeva-Popova?
Boeva: I was born at Ochrid. I am native from the ancient city and I am from a very good family. We were eight children, five brothers and three sisters. My childhood I spent under the communism. We had property but we had not much money. By the way, all Ochrid people of that time were poor as a result of the Turkish and the Serbian slavery. There I finished a high school.. I had an original father. All knew him-Hristo Boev. On his name’s day at home were gathering many people and we were singing Bulgarian songs. He had a talent of an architect. He was gifted. He had not great education. He was suffering because he had not continued his studies.
He was often retelling of when he was in the second class (when the Serbians came in 1913) the teacher was a Serbian or a serbophile and taught the children to speak Serbian language. He gave them an example raising his hand and asking the children:” Ùà jå îâî?” (What is this) the children answered “A hand”. The teacher objected: “No”! The children said: “If it is not a hand then it is a leg!” But he objected again and told them:”Îâî jå ðóêà!” (This is a hand). As an answer my father raised himself and told: “Professor we ochrid people tell to stupid people: “Óõú, ðóêî íè åäíà!” the teacher abused himself and beated the child with a cane. My father came home and told his mother: “Nano, I will go no more to school!” That was the reason why he had only second class despite later he worked as a clerk. My father’s family fled to Romania because they could not support to live under the Serbian slavery. There they lived for some time and my father studied for a couple of years.
Focus: How did it happen you to come from Ochrid to Rome?
Boeva: This is a long story. In 1953, when I was 15 a group of six young men came from Pirin-Macedonia to Ochrid as political emigrants. Among them there were my future husband Anton Popov and his brother Dimitar Popov. Anton was a university student; his brother was a student in the 8th class in a high school. Dimitar (Mitko) was sitting on the same desk with my brother Ilia (Ilcho). In that time he told my parents that emigrants have come from Bulgaria. They told him to bring them home to be our guests. And that was what happened. They began to frequent us. I as a young girl felt in love with Anton and later on between us grew a strong love.
With the arrival of these young men in our city the Bulgarian spirit awoke.
Meetings were organized also revels where we were singing especially Bulgarian songs. On my father’s name day he was telling me to go outside in the yard to see if there was somebody of our neighbours overhearing us singing Bulgarian songs and who could call us on the Serbian communists. That made to me a strong impression.
Focus: You did not answer concretely, how did you depart for Rome?
Boeva: I felt in love with Anton. He departed to study medicine at Skopie; I remained to study at Ochrid. After a year the relations between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia became more positive and a decision was taken to return all emigrants in Bulgaria. Anton and other emigrants decided to ask to depart for the West. The authorities gathered and sent them to the camp of Gerovo (Dalmatia). There they remained almost a year. Because of their unclear destiny they made a hunger strike and Anton was arrested for a month as an organizer. The UN interfered in that case and Yugoslavia (which was receiving big sums of dollars from the West) regardless of her will allowed the emigrants to depart for where they wanted. Anton and his mates were among the group that was sent to the camp of Capua (near Caserta-Italy).
In the meantime Ivan Mihailov was an illegal with her wife Mencha Karnicheva and his right hand Asen Avramov and was living in Rome. Avramov was meeting emigrants openly and was informing Ivan Mihailov. A. Avramov went to the camp of Capua supported by the World Council of the Churches and there he met Anton Popov. That was how Anton initiated his relations with I. Mihailov. Later on when Asen Avramov departed for the United States to visit and to encourage MPO (Macedonian Patriotic Organization) as he often did, Anton became a kind of a bodyguard of Vancho and Mencha.
When I finished high school my father told me that he had no money to sustain me at the university. I told him I will work a year and I will try to obtain a scholarship to continue my studies in any kind of specialty. I obtained a scholarship to study-if you believe or not an Arabian philology! It had been studied if I remember well only at the university of Sarajevo and Belgrade. And because one of my brothers was studying at Belgrade I chose the same city. There I chanced upon the arrogant national negation.
...”What Macedonians! You are south Serbian!” They were telling me. That made to me a sore impression because everybody in Belgrade was claiming that Macedonians did not exist and that we were a Serbian colony.
I did not trust to my mother that we were Bulgarians.
Focus: In that period, of what nationality you felt yourself?
Boeva: I remember a conversation with my parents when I was a child. We were often talking about Bulgaria. They told me: “We are Bulgarians from Macedonia”. I asked them what were they saying when I was studying at school that Samuel was a Macedonian tsar. My mother I told: “ You may love Bulgaria because you have relatives at Sofia but that is what I study”. She replied: “You study falsified things. That is not the truth. We are Bulgarians and tsar Samuel was a Bulgarian tsar”. From then on inside me grew a doubt of if we were actually Macedonians. The negation at Belgrade made me question myself: “My parents couldn’t have lied to me. What am I?”
My conviction that we were Macedonians and Samuel was a Macedonian tsar disappeared.
In the university I was a very good student. Even if I didn’t speak Serbian well I had high grades. I studied for two years at Belgrade. For seven years we with Anton had carried on a correspondence and I decided it was time to see if we would continue our relationship or our ways had to split.
Since 1957 Tito began to give passports and many people began leaving for the west. In 1961 I told Anton to meet each other at Trieste ( Italy). After my arrival there I sent a telegramme to him and he called me on the phone and told me to go to Rome at hotel “Roma” where he made a reservation for me. Later I found out he was afraid to come to Trieste because he had already become a part of the Macedonian organization.
I arrived in Rome and we met. I called home and my father told me:” If you come back you will never see Anton again. If you love him very much remain there. Don’t care about us! “I did not want to emigrate because I knew what kind of problems my relatives would have had in Macedonia.
But I had no choice any more. That was how I remained. I obtained a right of asylum and I matriculated myself at the university in Rome. Instead of Arabian philology I chose political sciences. In the meantime I was preparing as an emigrant my documents to leave for the US where Anton had gone to work. From Macedonia I was told my father, brother, aunt and cousin had been fired because of me. The Americans didn’t give me a visa because I was being slandered from Skopie. At that time I was living in an accommodation with the money Anton was sending to me. I was meeting only Asen Avramov who was calling him Petrov. He was giving to me the newspaper ”Macedonian Tribune”. As I was reading it I began to realize that in the US and Canada there were Macedonian patriotical organizations.
Focus: How it came to your first meeting with Ivan Mihailov?
Boeva: I remember that before his departure across the ocean Anton left me a suitcase full of letters, which I started reading. Then I knew about the contact of Anton with I. Mihailov without even knowing that he was the person concerned. The letters made me a strong impression. I thought that man was something of extraterrestrial because he was prophetically claiming that Yugoslavia would crash down and we did not have to desperate but we had to continue working for the cause.
One afternoon after the question of my departure for the US was closed the phone in the accommodation rang and I heard a man’s voice who told me: “I am the friend of Anton Popov and I want to meet you”. I replied that if he was a friend of Anton I would meet him. He précised that the meeting would take place after an hour and a half on that and that street near a tree in front of a bar.
I met an ordinary man on a mature age. He told me: “I’m a friend of Anton. But you do not know who I am”. I answered: “I don’t know”. He told me he was I. Mihailov. Amazed I exclaimed: “I had studied in the high school in Macedonia about Vancho Mihailov that he was a terrorist, fascist and a murderer. He laughed with his good and nice smile, which revealed his great soul. I asked myself how this man could be a leader and to take such an important decisions. In our conversation he insisted firmly: “We will pursue Tito to the last hole because there is no such a thing as a Macedonian nation.
Focus: What was your reaction to his statement?
Boeva: Being a student at the Rome’s university I went to the library in search of what I. Mihailov have told me. I found a text written in French an extract from the book of Shlomberge (a famous French historian and archeologist one of the most popular French byzantologist) “ Byzantine epopee” which glorifies the Byzantine empire and Vasilii the Second called the killer of Bulgarians. Than I told myself: “Where are you mother to embrace you!” Despite she was not educated she knew that we were Bulgarians. These were the documents. He, Shlomberge, wrote how Vasilii the Second persuaded and killed Bulgarian soldiers.
Focus: What made you from that moment on till the death of I. Mihailov to dedicate your entire life to him?
Boeva: I come from a big, patriotic family. We are fearless. I told myself: “If they don’t want to recognize my nationality, they called me a Serbian and if there are people on the other hand, who are working illegally for the cause and who give there lives for Macedonia, why not joining them”. While reading “Macedonian Tribune” I knew that thousands of people were organizing themselves, leaded by Mihailov, and I did not see a reason why couldn’t I be one of them. I was intelligent enough, as a good student at the university I was educated enough and so there was no chance for someone to deceive me. After some time Vancho and Mencha called me on a dinner in there home where even now we live. The firs thing that attracted my attention was the photo of Mara Buneva over the bed where Mencha slept. I was touched by the words of Vancho: “Dear, feel yourself as if you were at home, everything is on your disposal”. For a short period I visited them as a guest. After that, they decided to remain to live with them.
Vancho would take Kriste Tsarvenkovski for the collar at Rome
Focus: Have you worked somewhere after you finished your education or you have thoroughly dedicated yourself to Mihailov?
Boeva: I worked only for and with him. He was receiving the paper “New Macedonia” on the address of other person here in Rome and he had been regularly informed about the situation in Macedonia. He was constantly reading Italian end English newspapers too; he was going to the libraries included the Vatican one. He was always in a movement. When in 1934 the revolutionary time for the Macedonian movement had passed, when he ran away with Mencha he dedicated himself to a legal fight because despite to the West he could continue his fight he did not want to organize assaults. He loved people and he didn’t want them to suffer, to be killed and exiled. Everything Tito did Vancho made the opposite saying: “Our people must remain in Macedonia and live in peace and tranquility. This slavery will pass”.
We were constantly canvassing by means of petitions, letters of protest, memoirs addressed to the UN ecc. By the name of MPO emphasizing that the Macedonian republic was a colony of Serbia, under other name as a Macedonian nation. We declared that Macedonia is Bulgarian and the slaves in Macedonia are Bulgarian. All these that had the power in Macedonia were or serbophile or greekophiles or Rumanian greekophiles. Mencha was a Rumanian but she was on our side. One of her grandmothers had been Bulgarian from Krushevo. Later Vancho gave me a book. “The Macedonian National Revival” By Simeon Radev . He describes how people recreated the Bulgarian church and came out of the chains of the Greek one. In that book I read that the first chairman of the BulgarianChurch’s Community at Ochrid was Nicola Bandev. I jumped and told to Mencha: “ My mother told me that her grandfather George was a priest and his father too and he was called Nicola. Mrs. Maria (that is how we addressed Mencha) that was my great grandfather.” The first chairman of the Ochrid’s Community was my great grandfather! She called Vancho and told me to retell what I had told her. After I explained him he embraced me and I persuaded myself that he hadn’t been chosen me occasionally. Later I knew that a first cousin of Vancho (Lenche) with whom they had studied at the Solon’ high school actually had married a cousin of my mother.
Focus: Had I. Mihailov lived permanently till his death on September 5, 1990 in the house you live till now?
Boeva: In this house he lived since 1958. In the meantime the building where the apartment was situated was for sale. I told some people from MPO. Let’s buy a part of it even a half and with the money MPO would publish approximately 50 editions. Some people doubted that someone could take the money. That’s how this idea failed. But if it had succeeded there wouldn’t be a Macedonian nation because with the money would have been sponsored children from Macedonia to study to the West where they would have had an access to the world literature and they would have known the truth. As I knew it from the books in the same way would have known the others. We lived in this house paying a rent till 1986. That was when we bought the apartment.
Focus: Did you live a secret life introducing you with a false name?
Boeva: Yes. Here in the neighbourhood everybody knew Vancho and Mencha as Hungarians. Vancho was known as professor Giovanni and Mencha was Maria. When I came here they told me not to use my real name. Vancho invented me the pseudonym Emma. All my neighbours know me with that name till now. I think it is not necessary to tell my real name because as you know the habit is a second nature. You can see that on the house telephone and on the door outside is still written only Emma. Simply said we didn’t dare writing another name while Vancho was still alive because Popov and Boeva make an impression as a Bulgarian family name. The reason Vancho gave me that name was because in Italy it is used as a family name.
Focus: Was Vancho afraid of UDBA?
Boeva: He was not afraid of anybody. I will give you an example: We traveled together to Austria because he wanted to write some memoirs by the time he had been there with Mencha. The train had to pass near the Slovenian frontier. My heart would go out of my breast from agitation. I was thinking if the train could accidentally divert to Yugoslavia.Vancho was laughing and told me: “Why are you afraid my dear?” I was worried about him not about me.
Another example. Constantly people were coming from MPO to meet him so I had a suitcase full of photos. Maybe very soon they will be published. We were at the Rome’s airport “Fiumicino” to meet some people. As we were waiting there passed Krste Tzarvenkovski accompanied by delegation. Vancho fixed his gaze on him and told me: “Vida now I will take him for the collar and I will tell him. “You must defend the interests of Macedonia!” I freezed. A delegation and bodyguards accompanied Tzarvenkovski. That was why I told Vancho: “ Mr. Radko, I beg you, be careful, because a great scandal will arise and the bodyguards will kill you. They don’t know who you are.” He made a step and stopped.
Focus: Had some external people attempted to approach Vancho?
Boeva: Most often the communists’ intelligence was trying to contact him using MPO. But Vancho was never meeting persons he hadn’t known previously. There were persons I don’t want to mention names who matriculated at the Rome’s university to infiltrate them but we frustrated their intentions. They sent even a girl to get close but we removed her. I met in Via Veneto a person from the Bulgarian intelligence. To his question “what will happen to the archives?” I answered: “That is not your business. If you insist so strongly on seeing how it look likes I will make you see it but at a distance. I assure you that you will not dare to approach them because they are a real deity”.
Mihailov was not permitting a big Albania
Focus: How was Vancho moving? Had he bodyguards, was he wearing a safe-jacket or was he carrying a gun in a case of an attempt upon his life?
Boeva: According to me the West stood on his side knowing that whenever it could happen Yugoslavia would crash down. I think it was so because of his idea of a free and independent Macedonia as the most appropriate medicine for the instauration of peace on the Balkan Peninsula. That is the case of Switzerland: the most peaceful and free country in the world. Vancho moved freely. He was buying newspapers, he was going to some libraries, he was visiting his familiars, he was meeting important persons in the Vatican. He had only a little pistol which he carried in his back pocket. “I carry it just for saying, because these things should be done in a different way he said laughing.”
Focus: Had Mihailov traveled in and outside Italy?
Boeva: While Mencha was still alive they went to Germany together to cure her because she suffered from heart and kidneys. They were constantly going to north Italy, and once we went together to Austria. He was constantly invited to the US and Canada to attend the congress of MPO as even Mencha wished. We, his familiars, advised him not to go. The reason was that he was a legend for the people and we had the necessity of him to live and to remain a legend only meeting important persons, macedonian propagandists who on their turn to hand over his points of view to the others, but he to remain a mith.
Focus: What was Vancho doing most often? Was he reading or writing?
Boeva: He read all these books you can see in this huge library. In many he was signing facts necessary for his issues. He wrote four volumes of “Memoirs”. He was writing alone. We helped him. I was not his secretary but a personal collaborator. He was a secretary of Todor Aleksandrov. Collaborators were also my husband and Assen Avramov who died in 1968.
Focus: Have Vancho left a manuscript of the fifth volume of his”Memoirs”?
Boeva: The manuscript of the fifth volume is ready. Inside Vancho describes events that took place during the secon world war, his stay in Croatia, the problem of the albanian in west Macedonia ecc.
Focus: Is it true that he was meeting high rappresentatives of the albanians, the balists in Macedonia?
Boeva: Yes, that is exact. He had met them personaly earlier between the two world wars. But after 1948 he had contacts with the Albanians through other person’s mediation. Personally-no! The reason was that in front of the west the Albanians were showing the map of big Albania. That was why he comunicated with them to assure himself that they could not crate big Albania because we are speaking of bulgarian territories where we should live together. By the way even the mountains separate naturally Macedonia from Albania. This natural frontier separates the mentality of the one from the others. On the other hand rebels from IMRO (between the two world wars) who wanted to have a rest were going to Italy passing through Albania.
Focus: Vancho was firstely a secretary while the leader of the organization was T. Aleksandrov. After the murder of Aleksandrov in 1924 Vancho took the leadership in IMRO. What was he retelling you of these events?
Boeva: These events are narrated in the second and in the third volumes. It’s pitty the “Memoirs” are not still published in Macedonia and can’t be read.
Focus: But before her death Maria Koeva the daughter of Todor Aleksandrov had told in an interview that she had a certain doubt that Mihailov had partecipated in a murder of her father.
Boeva: These are very bad, provocative vain talks which does not deserve to be commented. I am convinced Maria neither would have thought nor said some kind of thing. T. Aleksandrov was Vancho’s teacher. Thanks to Mihailov IMRO was saved after the murder of Aleksandrov. The killers of Aleksandrov the phisical and the intellectual ones are well known. They are Protogerov, Aleko Vassilev, Georgi Atanassov. On the funeral of Aleksandrov the committers of his murder were found and they were punished on the 12th of september1924. On the same day (12 september 1924) indicated for a meeting between Mihailov and the threeman in charge of a murder of Aleksandrov, Mihailov did not came (foreseeing that his murder was planed) saying he was ill. Vancho sent Kiril Drangov and others with him to eliminated the three guilty. Drangov had been said to let alive Georgi Atanassov and Protogerov (if the moment would permit) because they had to say publically who had organized the murder. During the elimination of Aleko, Atanassov tried to escape and was eliminated in a park by one young follower of IMRO.
The most frequent to be striken by the bullet of IMRO were the communists
Focus: Did he have contacts with Maria Koeva?
Boeva: On the 15th of dec. 1989 she sent a letter to Vancho and by the way she writes :“Dear uncle Vancho, ... I have alwais admired your activity and I have followed it as far as it was possible to me. Your followes here, who are not few, comprehand very well that if the bulgarian spirit still hounds in Macedonia the merit is especially yours. As to me and my family, we will remember all life long what you did for the glorifying of the doings and the name of my father and for the help you gave to Sasho in Paris when he was ill. I believe that the new 1990 and the changes that take so rapidly place in our country will give you fresh strengths and faith.
Cordial greetings from my husband. I wish you health and all the best!
But Sasho had leucemia and he died soon after the treatment. Maria Koeva visited Vancho in Rome and after that for a couple of times she was an honourable guest to MPO.
Focus: A book was published in Macedonia by Zoran Todorovski in which according to documents from the bulgarian archives, Todor Aleksandrov is seen also in a positive light. Do you espect that in the future similar documents could be found in Macedonia concerning Vancho Mihailov?
Boeva: Mihailov is a legend! US and West Europe write about him as aboute positive person in the history. He created MPO, I mean Aleksandrov created it but Vancho activated it. IMRO was a state in the state in the US and Canada. He is an idol. Concerning to T. Aleksandrov his second volume of the memoars Vancho complitely dedicated to him Mihailov writes: “...After the 1918 when Bulgaria had already lost the war in Macedonia for the second time came the serbian slavery. Aleksandrov was digging well with a needle, he had almoust created the revolutionary IMRO”.
Till his death Mihailov was a sworn enemy of the communists. He was unique. He spoke fluently six languages: english, french, italian, deutsch, turkish, croatian. In American encyclopedia is written: “For the time of I. Mihailov MPO was the most powerful organization in the world”.
Focus: Since the September 5, 1990 when he died you have always been his most closed collaborator. Do you plan to write a book that retells your life with him?
Boeva: Yes, of course! but firstly I and my husband have to complete our task publishing the 5th volume of “Memoars” by Ivan Mihailov because he left us a legacy. We would like to publish the book in Macedonia if they agree to publish it in bulgarian language; the language in which was writing Vancho, because he was a bulgarian. Actually in an interview he stated: “My great grandfather was a bulgarian, he said to my grandfather he was a bulgarian, my grandfather told my father he was a bulgarian and my father told me I am bulgarian”. So, he was unshakable bulgarian and his book must be published in a bulgarian language and I will be the most happy person after its publishment in Macedonia.
Focus: Then what are the Macedonians and what is the macedonian nation supposed to be?
Boeva:We don’t have to argue with those who call their nationality macedonian because they need time and education to release themselves from the illusion and to be enlightened as it happened to me.
Focus: It is known from the history that I. Mihailov ordered murders I mean assaults. Why was he doing these things?
Boeva: Mihailov was not ordering, these things were decided by the Central Committee of IMRO composed of three members. He was a member of the Commettee. Maybe the others were influenced by him, but in any case he respected the common decisions. It is proved that the murders of the so called macedonian functionaries were justified, because these functionaries were serbian agents, they were receiving money by the Serbian embassy, the moscovian communists and the Greeks. Their only aim was to eliminate the Macedonian movement I mean to disactivate IMRO and the idea of an independent Macedonia to fail.All these things are described in the 4th volume of his “Memoirs”.
Focus: Of how many ordered murders we speak about?
Boeva: For many (by the both sides) . Actually the guilty were always punished, not the innocent people. IMRO was one of the most humane and justy organizations similar probably will not exist any more.Its moto was: “Only the guilty one!” For example. General Kovachevich was killed at Shtip. Why? He was ordering to serbian, soldiers to fall in love with our girls aiming crossed marriages-a method far more effective serbianization of Macedonia. IMRO was firstly warning then was punishing. That was how general Kovachevich was punished. The serbian king Aleksandar had personally ordered the murders of the father and the brother of I. Mihailov killed while going to work. That he made for revenge. For every murder by the serbian police IMRO was answering with the same method.
Focus: Why Mencha Karnicheva killed Todor Paniza at the theatre in Vienna but in our history he is mentioned as a macedonian leader? Why Vancho ordered this murder?
Boeva: Todor Paniza was the physical murderer of two of the members of IMRO- Ivan Garvanov and Boris Sarafov at Sofia in 1907. Fortunately at that moment Hristo Matov was not there and he was saved. Paniza was sent by Iane Sandanski to commit those murders . He was eliminated in 1915 by Todor Aleksandrov; the brigand Paniza later. Todor Paniza was familiar with the father of Mencha. She was living in Tsaribrod and as a young girl she had heard how Paniza was showing off with serbian and greek passports and with the money he received by the communists for killing everybody who was standing against the communists and who was with IMRO:Vancho met Mencha who gave him these informations concerning Paniza. Later they fell in love and she in the name of her love for him and Macedonia decided to sacrifice herself and to kill this brigand.
Why they speack of him as of a hero? Isn’t it for the same reason why he was receiving mony from the communists?
Focus: Why Dimo Hadgi Dimov was killed?
Boeva: Because he served the communists. He was a communist and one of the guilty for the murder of T. Aleksandrov. He was a part of the created by the commiunists IMRO-united, existing in a paralel with the real (national ) IMRO. Their purpose was to destroy the national, historical IMRO. They were published even a newspaper in Viena.
Focus: What is the reason Vancho and IMRO did not organized assaults Aegean Macedonia?
Boeva: Since1913 the Greeks began to persue our people from there. They were running to Bulgaria and from there most of them departed for America. Their places were taken by Greeks coming from Mala Asia. Vancho was very carreful-the expatriacion (forced) of our people from Aegean Macedonia had to be stopped. Three quarters of the members of MPO who continue legally the cause are native from Aegean Macedonia considered that if some kind of actions would had been undertaken in Aegean Macedonia the states friends of Greece would had taken her side. In this case IMRO would have created trobles to herself.
Focus: Why in 1934 Bulgaria banned IMRO?
Boeva: Because at that time there was commited a serbophilian coup d’etat with the support of Serbia. Kimon Georgiev (as a prime minister ) by the way, had a proposal to give Macedonia to Serbia and she on her turn, as a friend of some of the Great Powers to promise that she would persuade them a coridor to be made for Bulgaria through Trakia to the Mediterranian sea. That kind of betrayers you can find elsewhere.
Focus: The bulgarian country passed seven death sentences of Ivan Mihailov. What happened with them? Were they striving to catch him, for executing these seven sentences?
Boeva: These seven death sentences due to the so called Macedonian murderers, the assaults against protogerovists, who were taking money by the Serbian, the Greeks and the commiunists to attack our revolutionaries. IMRO was defending themeselfs. As to these murders they had been provoked by the protogerovists. IMRO only responded to the attacks. We had on the side of IMRO two thousand lawyers in a defence of the cause. In 1941 when the macedonian territories returned to be bulgarian again, these seven death sentences were revoked; there was no commiunism; and not only weren’t they persueing him but they were pleading him to return. He rejected and he remained as a guest in Croatia. He riturned never more to Macedonia.
Focus: Who created contacs with Ante Pavelich?
Boeva: His contacts with Pavelich dated since 1928 when this Croatian volanteerly as a lawyer in Zagreb, decided to defend the macedonian student arrested by the serbs at Skopie and who had been tortured for years. That was how contacts has started. After that Pavelich came to visit Vancho and a strong relationship was created between IMRO and the Croatians. I know that when he went to defend as a lawyer the macedonian student at Skopie, an assault was organized against him.
Focus: WhenI. Mihailov came to Rome?
Boeva: In 1934 he went to Turkey were he had remaind as a political emigrant for four years. After that he went to Polonia and Hungary and after Croatia was announced an independent state he went there as a guest. From there the german took him to Skopie to create a macedonian state in 1944 but he refused. In 1947 he departed for Italy passing through Austria.
Focus: Who arranged his departure for Rome? The german or the italian intelligence?
Boeva: Nobody. Both with Mencha passed illegally the frontier together. Italy accepted him as an important political person. Actually he had always been supporting the idea for the realization of the 8th corridor. Italy all in all hase been predisposed to bulgarians.
Focus: With who had he contacs at Rome? With friends, with illegal persons? Who helped him to subsist?
Boeva: Finantially MPO was sustaining him. He was writing and working for MPO. He was not receiving anything else from anybody. He was meeting persons from the Vatican, as well as the italian authorities. By the way, they were appreciating his advices. When during 1948 the relations between Russia and Yugaslavia became worse they thought Tito an Stalin were simulating but Vancho told them they were on bad terms.
Focus: Why Mihailov decided to dismiss IMRO?
Boeva He did not dismiss it. When the serbophilian government came in Bulgaria he run away. When this serbophilian government fell down the bulgarian tsar took the governing of the country. The protogerovists remained working with him till the end of the war. After the murder of king Aleksandar in Marseille these who were persecuted mostly by the serbophilian regime were the macedonian revolutionaries from IMRO.
Focus: What kind of Macedonia was Vancho for? Independent or an autonomy of Bulgaria?
Boeva: That is an interesting question. Firstely, the bulgarian nation, we are all bulgarians, extends from the Black Sea to Ochrid included. The congress of Berlin during 1878 left us again in Turkey. The Great Powers created the San Stefanian Bulgaria that extended to Ochrid included and to the Aegean Sea. IMRO was created because people wanted to free themeselves from the second turkish regime.
But we are a part of the bulgarian nation. The founders of IMRO were people who accepted the San Stefanian Bulgaria. Vancho was saying: “When we are not with Bulgaria despite we are one nation, than let Macenonia be independent”. But we are one nation and that must absolutely be known.
Focus: When Germany of the fascists was near her failure in 1944 the german intelligence came and took Vancho with a military airplane from Zagreb to Skopie to announce an independent Macedonia as Pavelich had done in Croatia. But he did not accept answering: “I don’t want to sacrifice my people!” Why did he do this?
Boeva: To Pavelich they allowed to create an independent Croatia in 1941 and to Vancho in 1944 when it was too late. He was thinking that in 1941 he could have created an independent Macenonia and if that have been realized then would not have been created a macedonian nation because we would not have had the pressure and the protectorate of Serbia.
In 1944 it was too late. Germany lost the war and what was done to our Jews Vancho couldn’t forgive them because the Jews had always been a part of our organization. On the other side the Russian army was marching, the communists were coming. So if he had created this independent Macedonia there would have been people who agree but also partisans against. And what would have happened? There would have been a war between brothers in Macedonia we would have killed one another like the Serbian. That was why he said: “I will go not against my people!” He was risking to be killed. And it was a real miracle the Germans didn’t kill him. Actually the proposal of the creation of an independent country was aiming to assure the way out of Greece to German armies.
Focus: What was Vancho thinking of Macedonia till his death?
Boeva: In his last interview he said Macedonia had to become a member of the EU on her own. I think that interview which we published as his political testament is historical and that his forecasts come true.
Focus: Till his last moment who was Vancho in touch with in Macedonia?
Boeva: He had permanent contacts with young people from Macedonia. There was an event I will never forget. Here in Rome came brother and sister whose identity I prefer not to mention and when they came in, the woman fell down on her knees in front of Vancho. He told her agitated: “Don’t do that! Please stand up! Why are you doing that?”
Focus: Who was his most faithful mate?
Boeva: I will mention some of the many-Branco Smirkov a chairman of the association “Todor Aleksandrov” in Brusselles and Christo Karagiozov. He was carrying a correspondence and meeting many people. But, of course he was careful with Aleko Stoimenov because he was in the prison in Italy for drugs. And Vancho did not want to have anything in common with persons who were in charge of drugs. (Independently of they were guilty or not).
Focus: How was V. Mihailov living? Who was financing him? Is it true, that he arrived in Rome with a sack full of money?
Boeva: He was always saying he felt in an awkward position but at the same time was proud of our emigration, which helped him when he was in the worse situation. Vancho and Mencha had no money. They were receiving money from MPO because Vancho was the leader of the Macedonian liberational movement and was working for the liberation of Macedonia from Greek and Serbian slavery. Since his death MPO have not sent us any kind of financial support. In fact the funeral of Vancho was on our expense.
Focus: Did Vancho leave you something in heritage?
Boeva: The archives, the books. He left a testament with which everything he had he left to me.
Focus: what happened to the property of IMRO in Bulgaria; hasn’t IMRO left something to Karakachanov?
Boeva: They belong to the Macedonian brotherhood. So I think that this legal organization have received something in heritage. I have no information what happened to the properties. What concerns Karakachanov he is on his place because he says in Macedonia there live Bulgarians and he stands on the same position of the real IMRO. The firs time he came to visit us was on October 9, 2004 (the anniversary of the assault in Marseille). He visited the grave of Vancho and we had beneficial conversations.
Focus: Is today’s MacedoniaSwitzerland of the Balkans?
Boeva: I think it goes on the right way with a little exception. Macedonia will be a Switzerland on the Balkans but firstly the Slavs in Macedonia should admit they are Bulgarians. The fact that the EU has recently announced thanks to us, who live in the West that the Macedonian nation does not exist, proves that Macedonia is on her right way to become a Switzerland of the Balkans.
Focus: Had Vancho ever spoken to you of his childhood, of Shtip?
Boeva: Yes. He wrote the first volume (which is a little book) retelling of this. He was living with the memories of his childhood. And because he had a sense of humour, while he was joking all we were laughing. He was also imitating successfully some persons.
Focus: What do you think of today’s political parties in Macedonia who are called after IMRO?
Boeva: Vancho was still alive and filled with indignation when IMRO DPMNE was formed. “How could these falsifications be made, how could people be deceived!?” It is a fact that three quarters of the people in Macedonia was with IMRO of Lubcho Georgievski, because they were deceived. One of the persons who created it was Dragan Bogdanovski (now deceased) who was of the communists’ intelligence and a thief. IMRO is a Bulgarian organization but these parties in Macedonia not only don’t call them Bulgarian but also don’t want to turn back the letters of Saint Clement. Consequently we have to become conscious of the problem with the Albanians if we want to preserve Macedonia in its frontiers.
Focus: What do you think of L: Georgievski?
Boeva: I was personally disappointed of L. Gergievski in 1991 when I went to Sofia. In the newspaper “Thousand Days” I stated, I feel Bulgarian and he in the same newspaper on the same page stated the Macedonian nation was a fact. What are we to do now when Europe says the Macedonian nation does not exist? Georgievski appeared politically immature and inexperienced. Macedonia has had a centuries’ long problems with Serbians and Greeks. But he restored the relations with them. In MPO they cry about the native hearths in Aegean Macedonia, and Liubcho is going every summer on a holiday in Greece.
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Focus: How he received his pseudonym Radko?
Boeva: As far as I know, this pseudonym he had since the insurgent’s time. And we, his familiars, addressed him with “Mr. Radko”.
Focus: Did you give permission the association “Radko” to be formed in Macedonia?
Boeva: No, just the opposite. Entire Macedonia has to organize in one Bulgarian association, not only a group of people.
Focus: What was the reason Mihailov and Mencha had no children?
Boeva: They didn’t want to have children. She made a couple of aborts. They didn’t want because they knew, that child of theirs, would have had more difficulties because they were living an illegal life. They discussed this question. They adored children. That was why they loved my husband and me as their children.
Focus: Had Vancho and Mencha an official marriage?
Boeva: Yes, of course. They were official husband and wife.
Focus: How did Vancho bear the death of his wife in 1964?
Boeva: It was very hard for him. Mencha died on September 10, 1964 from heart in spite of her problems with the kidneys. She died on the age of 64 while they were on a holiday in the villa of an Italian priest situated in “Grotta Ferrata”-30 km from Rome. There in the same grave rest their mortal remains. Since Mencha’s death Vancho dedicated himself entirely to books and memoirs and thought never more of another woman.
Focus: Why was it decided and how was arranged the murder of the Serbian king Karageorgievich?
Boeva: What you mean with why was it decided? He was the greatest enemy of Macedonia. His murder was actually inevitable. How people say-natural. We had a revolutionary organization. He was killing our people, so the bullet normally reached him. That is what happens to all dictators. It was committed with the help of Croatian emigrants who were preparing themselves for the assault in north Italy. But Vancho sent to them Vlado Chernozemski. In the fourth volume the assault is described in the chapter entitled: “The event in Marseille”. There everything is precisely retold. The assaulters took positions where the king had to pass. In four major places-where the car was to pass stood three Croatians and V.Tchernozemski who was on the other hand a religious person and was constantly reading the Bible.
While the king was passing Vlado saw that nobody dared to shoot because of the crowd and he made a disapproving grimace to one of them and ran towards the car with a gun in his hand that had been hidden in a brunch of flowers, and he shot a couple of bullets. The kind died immediately while later died from his wounds the French minister of the foreign affairs-Bartou.
Focus: Where was Vancho during the assault in Marseille?
Boeva: At the same time Vancho was on the island if Princhipo, together with Mencha, because the Turkish authorities had transferred him to Anadol (near Ankara). That was how Vancho described it to us: “When the ship arrived to Tzarigrade (Istanbul), as I was raising my leg to step on the shore, an agitated policeman began to shout from the shore: “Oh, they have killed king Aleksandar in Marseille!” The king sent me to Anadol not to come back, but before my arrival there he left this world”.
Translation: Klimentina Arnaudova