Dissident Writer, Ex PM Murders Vie for Bulgaria Top Event

Society | January 29, 2010, Friday // 11:46|  views

Georgi Markov was murdered with a ricin-coated pellet, fired from an adapted pen; an umbrella was dropped nearby to distract him. File photo

The murders of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian émigré broadcaster and a dissident writer, and Andrey Lukanov, Bulgaria's former prime minister, have made their way to the nominations in the crime category for the country's top event during the past century.

The nominations are part of the on-line and text messaging campaign organized by the Bulgarian National Television, which aims to elect Bulgaria's most important political, cultural and scientific achievements over the 20th century.

Writer and journalist Georgi Markov was murdered with a ricin-coated pellet, fired from an adapted pen; an umbrella was dropped nearby to distract him.

According to Bulgarian secret-service files, an Italian-born Dane Francesco Gullino, code-named Piccadilly, was the agent who assassinated Georgi Markov, code-named “Wanderer”.

Destruction of documents and official obstruction seemed to have left the trail cold, but in a book being published in September last year, Hristo Hristov, a Bulgarian investigative journalist, gave the results of searching 97 previously classified files, obtained after a three-year legal battle.

They show details of training and payments to Piccadilly, and of the close links between the Bulgarian secret services and the Soviet KGB over the murder.

The files show the Bulgarian secret services alerting their KGB colleagues in Moscow to the damage being done by Markov’s broadcasts.

Andrey Lukanov was one of the former Party leaders in communist Bulgaria. He rose through the ranks of the Foreign Service and became Foreign Minister but later resigned from this position and took part in the overthrow of long-time leader Todor Zhivkov in 1989.

In 1990 Lukanov served as Bulgaria's last Communist Prime Minister, which was a time marked by corruption, massive food shortages, and civil unrest.

Lukanov was later charged with embezzlement and arrested, but charges were soon dropped. He has been engaged in controversial business dealings and has often been held responsible for Bulgaria's foreign debt.

Lukanov remained an active political participant in the Bulgarian Socialist (formerly Communist) Party, often criticizing its various members.

He was murdered in 1995 outside his apartment building in Sofia. He was shot in the head and chest by a lone gunman who fled and was never captured. The motive for Lukanov's murder remains unknown, but it is largely believed that he was killed by a hired assassin, probably paid for by a political or business enemy, from the same communist circles he belonged to.

The list of nominations in the crime category also features the murder of Alexander Stamboliyski (1923) and Geo Milev (1925), as well as the terror attacks in Saint Nedelya Church in Sofia (1925).

The winner in this category will be selected on February 4 in a broadcast aired live by the state TV channel.

Bulgarians recently named the emblematic date September 9, marking Bulgaria's anti-fascist uprising in 1944, the most important event in the country for the past century.

An appliance for roasting peppers, called "chushkopek“, was voted the most revolutionary household device of the 20th century.

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Tags: Georgi Markov, Hristo Hristov, Andrey Lukanov, Georgi Dimitrov, chushkopek


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