On this day in 1944 Rayko Nikolov Aleksiev- a Bulgarian painter and caricaturist who established Shturets, a hugely successful satirical newspaper in 1932. - was battered to death in a Bulgarian prison after his arrest by communists in their 1944 putsch.
Known for his uncompromising satire, Aleksiev was especially unloved by Bulgarian communists due to his famous caricatures of Joseph Stalin. After the Bulgarian coup d'état of 1944 he was, like many other intellectuals, arrested by the newly formed people's militia. While under arrest, he was severely beaten over the course of several days, resulting in his death.
Alekseiv studied literature at Sofia University and painting at the Art Academy in Sofia. With the release of his first landscape in the "Exhibition of Young" in 1913 Bulgarian Queen Eleanor became one of his biggest fans. The same year, the artist had five solo exhibitions.
In 1932, he founded the weekly newspaper "Cricket", painting all the cartoons, writing articles and humorous miniatures and handled the distribution. "Cricket" was written in the artist's home - the last issue being that of September 8, 1944. Its circulation of 50,000 made it the forefront native print media. Cartoonists Ilyia Beshkov and S toyan Venev were regular contributors.
As a longtime chairman of the Union of Artists Associations Rayko Alexiev organized help for destitute colleagues left homeless after the bombing of the cit in 1944. He managed to get from the Treasury the sum of 2 million levs for the starving families of the many freelance artists evacuated to various villages of the country.
With his success Rayko Alexiev made many enemies. In the last days before the Ninth of September coup,he was repeatedly warned by his family to leave the country and was indeed supplied with diplomatic passports. Alexiev refused to believe he was in danger and said:
I am not a politician. I have shown the errors of politicians, I toiled with my cartoons to deride what they do and that some politicians are bad. I have no money abroad. I paid regular taxes. I lend to anyone and I have given with both hands. I'm not a rat, leaving a sinking ship.
In 2002 the National Literary Award for humour and satire was started by the Municipality of Pazardzhik. It is awarded every three years, on March 7 to Bulgarian writers for their contribution in the field of humour and satire. The award may also be given to foreign authors for special contributions to Bulgarian studies popularization, personal creativity in the field of humour and satire, analysis and publications thematically related to Bulgaria.