Georgi Markov

Georgi Ivanov Markov was born 01.03.1929 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He was executed by DS (Durzhavna Sigornost - Bulgarian State Security) in London on 11.09.1978. Markov was Bulgaria's most revered dissident and Bulgarian Communism's arch enemy.

Georgi Markov was an acclaimed novelist and playwright ("The Archangel Michael" and "Personal meetings with Todor Zhivkov") in Bulgaria. In June 1969 Markov succeeded in getting official permission to leave Bulgaria, on the pretext of visiting his émigré brother Nikola Markov, who was living in Bologna, Italy.

Later he settled in Great Britain in1971 and became a broadcast journalist for BBC, Deutsche Welle and the Radio Free Europe. He had a large listening audience in Communist Bulgaria. He was known for his harsh criticism of the Bulgarian Communist Party and its leader and Party boss Todor Zhivkov. He was destroying the Cult of Personality, week-to-week.

In 1972 in Sofia at a closed- door trail he was given a six-and-a-half year sentence on charges of "working for foreign organizations to undermine his own country".

Georgi Markov received several various warnings and anonymous threats to stop broadcasting his inside knowledge of Bulgaria Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov and the obsequious circles of Bulgarian intellectuals and government officials. But he was not frightened and continued.

Bulgarian Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, was very well informed about Radio Free Europe broadcast. Zhivkov daily received a highly classified report and transcript of Radio Free Europe broadcast prepared by DS, "Directorate for Struggle Against the Ideological Subversion". Todor Zhivkov also knew of Georgi Markov's plans to publish a book of these interviews and other material included in his Radio Free Europe program series.

At that time Zhivkov was also very upset with another problem -  the rise of the Bulgarian dissident movement " Declaration 78 " ( Zhelu Zhelev, who later became Bulgaria's first democratically chosen President, was one of the dissidents influenced by Mr. Georgi Markov's Radio Free Europe programs ) that appeared in spring 1978.

A Bulgarian investigator established that in the summer of 1977 Zhivkov told a Communist Party Politburo meeting that he wanted Georgi Markov silenced, He said: "All measures could be used to neutralize enemy emigres". A few month earlier  Zhivkov asked KGB to help him silence Georgi Markov.

The order was given to Interior Minister Dimitar Stoyanov. The KGB gave DS access to the resources in the "Chamber" (KGB secret laboratorium - No. 12 ) .

Both Yuri Andropov and Vladimir Krutchkov personally approved  and ordered General Sergei Golubev to cooperate with DS. In 1978 Gen. Golubev traveled to Sofia three or four times to help DS with planning of the secret operation.

Three attempts to assassinate Mr. Georgi Markov followed. The first attempt was made in Munich in the spring of 1978 when Georgi Markov was visiting friends and colleagues at Radio Free Europe. Someone put a toxin into Markov's drink at a dinner in his honor. The attempt to kill him failed. The second assassination effort occurred on the Italian island of Sardinia, where Georgi Markov was on vacation with his family. The plan also failed for reasons unknown.

The KGB head resident in Washington bought several umbrellas and send them to the KGB and OTU rebuilt the umbrellas. Sergei Golubev took the umbrellas with him to Sofia to instruct DS about how to use them.

The final, and successful, attempt was staged in London 07.09.1978, Bulgarian's Communist dictator Mr. Todor Zhivkov 67th birthday.

That day Georgi Markov worked a double shift at the BBC. After finishing the early morning shift, he went home for rest and lunch. Returning to work by car, he drove to a parking lot on the south side of Waterloo Bridge. It was his habit to take a bus across the half-mile Waterloo Bridge to the BBC headquarters in the Bush House.

After parking his green Citroën in a parking lot near the Waterloo Bridge, Markov climbed the stairs to the bus stop. As he neared the queue of people waiting for the bus, he experienced a sudden stinging pain in the back of his right thigh. He turned and saw a man bending to pick up a dropped umbrella. The man who was facing away from Georgi Markov, apologized.

Georgi Markov subsequently remembered that the apology was made with a foreign accent. The man then hailed a taxi and departed. Markov later described him as heavy set and about 40 years old. Though in pain, Georgi Markov boarded the bus to work. But the pain continued.

Georgi Markov noticed a small blood spot on his jeans. He told colleagues at the BBC what happened and showed one friend a pimple-like red swelling on his thigh. By evening,  Georgi Markov had developed a high fever. His wife Annabel called a colleague at BBC, who took Markov to a London hospital, where he was treated for an undetermined form of blood poisoning.

His condition fast worsened. He was not responding to doctor's efforts. The next day he went into shock, and after three days of agony and delirium he died on 11.09.1978.

The preliminary diagnosis indicated that the death was caused by "Septicemia, a form of blood poisoning caused by bacterial, possibly a result of kidney failure".

Various newspaper in London carried the story of Georgi Markov's death as front page news. Scotland Yard began an investigation into the death. An autopsy was performed at Wandsworth Public Mortuary. The doctors found a tiny metal pinhead in the wound. When they attempted to extract the "pin", a tiny pellet fell on the table.

The police took the pellet to the Chemical and Micro-biological Warfare Establishment at Porton Down, commonly called the "Germ Warfare Center".

There, a team of the England's foremost specialists in forensic medicine, and, reportedly, Dr. Christopher Green of the CIA ( Central Intelligence Agency - U.S.A. ), examined the pellet. They found that two 0.34 millimeter holes had been drilled in the pellet, possibly using a high - technology laser at right angels to each other, producing an X - shaped cavity. The holes were empty.

This prevented investigators from establishing the type of substance that had been used, but was sufficient to determine that Mr. Georgi Markov had " Not died of natural causes ". BATS ( British Anti - Terrorist Squad ), detectives then joined the Scotland Yard investigating team.

After weeks of research and experimentation, in January 1979, a Coroner's Inquest in London Gavin Thurston ruled that Georgi Markov had been killed via a poison called ricin (it is several times deadly as cobra venom and has no antidote).

A Scotland Yard detective said the investigation team traveled to Italy, West Germany, France and then US searching for possible suspects. None was found. Today the pellet remains on permanent display at New Scotland Yard headquarters in London.

Several years later, two former top KGB officers, Oleg Gordievsky and Oleg Kalugin, publicly admitted Soviet complicity in Markov's murder. The case was dormant until after the arresting of Communist dictator Mr. Todor Zhivkov and the fall of the Communist government in Bulgaria in 1989.

The new Bulgarian President Mr. Zhelu Zhelev made a state visit to Great Britain in 1991. He attended a memorial service and placed flowers on Georgi Markov's grave in Whitchurch, Southwest England. He faced the small gathering, including Markov's wife Annabel and daughter Sasha, and said, "I hope Bulgarian authorities will soon reach some conclusions on who was responsible. The killing has shamed Bulgarian".

Bulgarian authorities and Scotland Yard officials resumed the investigation of the case. But their work was hampered by the lack of documentary evidence. Files on the case in the Bulgarian Interior Ministry were destroyed. And all traces of the crime have been eliminated. Even the DS act about the case Mr. Georgi Markov is destroyed or have been sent to Moscow, there are no doubt that some DS and KGB officers know the true about his death.

In March 1991, Bulgarian authorities announced that the official files in the Georgi Markov case had been destroyed by former intelligence chief, General Vladimir Todorov. The former deputy Interior Minister, General Stoyan Savov admitted he had give the files to General Vladimir Todorov. Shortly after this, former chief of Bulgarian Foreign Intelligence Vasil Kotsev, who was identified as the person in charge of the Markov operation, died in questionable and mysterious automobile accident.

In May 1991, General Vladimir Todorov unexpectedly flew to Moscow presumably to avoid arrest. His family said he flew to Moscow for medical treatment. He returned to Sofia, after the Bulgarian government had strongly protested and had officially asked for his extradition.

In June 1992 General Vladimir Todorov was sentenced to 1 years and 4 month in jail for destroying ten volumes of material. He said later, "The 3.500 pages did not contain anything important, most of it was press clippings".

A second suspect, General Mr. Stoyan Savov prefered to commit suicide on 09.01.1992 rather than face trial also for destroying the documents. General Vladimir Todorov was freed in February 1993.

Investigator established that the Bulgarian's used a low - level Italian criminal Francesco Guilino with the code name " Piccadilly " to commit the murder. The Bulgarian Intelligence Service and DS knew Francesco Guilino, he was arrested back in 1971 for drug trafficking in Bulgaria.

There is a speculation that  Francesco Guilino was involved in the mysterious kidnapping of prominent Bulgarian defector and publisher  Boris Arsoff in Denmark in July 1973.

In 1993, Mr. Francesco Guilino was located in Denmark, Copenhagen and questioned for 6 hours by Scotland Yard and Bulgarian investigators about his involvement and by PET ( Danish Intelligence Service ), on suspicion of being a Bulgarian intelligence agent. There are proof that Mr. Francesco Guilino was in London at the time of the murder of Georgi Markov.

The questioning was inconclusive and the suspect was said to have fled Denmark. He was then reported to have lived temporarily in the Czech Republic and Hungary. His whereabouts are unknown. In 1994 the British Parliament asked Russia to help them finding 15 KGB agents who might have been involved in or had knowledge of the murder. The request remains unanswered.

 In 1997 the new elected Bulgarian President, Mr. Petar Stoyanov made the promise in Sofia to the British Foreign Secretary,  Malcolm Rifkind, that he will use all his powers to solve the case of Georgi Markov. The Mr. Georgi Markov murder case remains officially unsolved.  No one has been brought to justice for the murder of  Georgi Markov, though prima facie evidence points Bulgarian and Soviet agents.
 

 

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