Yanev, Boris (1900-1957)

Boris Yanev

A short biography of Bulgarian anarchist and electrical engineer Boris Yanev.

Submitted by Battlescarred on February 17, 2024

Boris Yanev was born in Pazardzhik in Bulgaria in November 1900. He attended primary and secondary school in that city, and whilst at high school came in contact with anarchist ideas. He gave some short notes to Dr. Konstantin Kantarev (see his biography here at libcom) on his school years. “In autumn 1918, we formed a student club in Pazardzhik under the leadership of the teacher Kocho Hristov, a communist who was killed in 1923. We were 15-20 people. We gathered in private quarters. I remember I. Kibritov, Stefan Georgiev, Slaveyko Vasilev, Kiril Popov, Spas Tanev and others. At the beginning of 1919, we separated and formed an anarchist circle under the influence of Dimitar Nikolov Kibritov, who had just returned from the front. At the front, he had met Kyustendil comrades who won him over to anarchism. He brought anarchist literature…We read essays, books, discussed, etc. We received "Workers' Thought", "Awakening" (1919-20). Recently, at the invitation of the independent socialists, we met regularly at their club, where they provided us with a room and their library. We had meetings every week, we had communal parties and entertainment...In 1919, most of our group finished high school. Together with workers we formed an anarchist organization: Smoke.”
He completed his higher education in electrical engineering in Stuttgart, Germany. Whilst in Germany, he came in contact with other Bulgarian anarchists as well as with their German counterparts. He joined the Bulgarian Anarchist Union Abroad and the Committee for Assistance to the Persecuted, set up to aid oppressed Bulgarian anarchists and was highly active in spreading anarchist ideas at university.

After completing his studies, he returned to Bulgaria, living for a while in Sofia. He became good friends with the celebrated anarchist Vasil Ikonomov, and hid him from the authorities on many occasions.

Later he lived in Paris during 1927-28. He maintained close links with Bulgarian anarchists there and with French anarchists.

Returning to Bulgaria, he worked at the Vacha plant. He took part in the clandestine conference of the Bulgarian Anarchist Communist Federation (FAKB) at Lovech in August 1932. He provided security for the conference, Small and nimble, he climbed the tallest tree near the building where the conference was held, keeping a watch on the area around, and relaying information to posts below.

Because of his skills as an electrical engineer he was appointed to a job with the Ministry of Electrification. This enabled him to move around Bulgaria, keep in contact with local FAKB groups, and gather information on the internal political situation.

When the Communists came to power, he continued this work as a member of the FAKB secretariat for international relations. In summer 1946, he was sent on a business trip to Prague. There he established a direct contact with Bulgarian anarchists in France, and for the next twelve years carried out dangerous organisational work. He acted as a conduit for correspondence to and from abroad. He relayed information about sick and imprisoned comrades, supplying medicines and funds, and reporting on arrests and imprisonments of anarchists. He also channeled information on the political and economic situation in Bulgaria, and the behaviour of the regime, all of this through coded messages.

Boris’s wife had died young, and he had to raise his three children alone. This and the stress of the underground work he engaged in, may have contributed to the cancer he contracted.
An extremely modest and quiet man, his contribution to the work of the FAKB was immense.
Foreign comrades advised him to join the Communist Party to cover his underground activity but he categorically refused.

He died at the age of 57 in 1957.

Nick Heath