Bulgaria Closes 'Umbrella Killing' Case, UK Keeps It Open

Crime | September 11, 2013, Wednesday // 20:52|  views

Thirty five years on, Markov's murder by poisoning by the tip of an umbrella in central London remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Cold War. File photo

As Bulgaria closed its investigation into the murder of emigrant broadcaster and dissident writer Georgi Markov on September 11, Britain has assured its inquiry will continue.

"We can confirm that the inquiry remains open and has been a particularly complex investigation," said a spokeswoman for London's Metropolitan Police told Reuters.

Bulgarian prosecutors have failed to identify, arrest or charge anybody for the crime, known as the 'Bulgarian umbrella', and so they announced that on September 11 the case would be closed.

The Bulgarian emigrant Georgi Markov was poisoned in London on September 7 in 1978.

Thirty five years on, Markov's murder by poisoning by the tip of an umbrella in central London remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Cold War.

On September 7, 1978, Georgi Markov had been walking on foot to a bus stop to go to work at BBC. Once he reached the Waterloo Bridge over the Times River, he felt a sudden pain, similar to an insect bite, at the back of his left leg. He looked back and saw a man, picking an umbrella from the ground, crossing the street in a hurry, and catching a cab.

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

Between 1975 and 1978 Markov worked on his "In Absentia Reports" – an analysis of life in Communist Bulgaria. They were broadcast weekly on Radio Free Europe. The last one was aired on September 10, 1978, one day before he passed away.

Their criticism of the Communist government and personally of Party leader, Todor Zhivkov, made Markov even more an enemy of the regime.

There are reports that the day – September 7, was picked on purpose because this is also Zhivkov's birthday and the murder was supposed to serve as some sort of a gift to Zhivkov.

Before 1978, DS agents, with the help of the Soviet KGB, made two attempts to assassinate Markov.

High-ranking KGB officers, Oleg Kalugin and Oleg Gordievski confirmed after the fall of the Berlin Wall that the murder was assisted by KGB, but until today no one has been charged in the case.

Destruction of documents and official obstruction seemed to have left the trail cold, but in a book being published in September 2008, 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 reveal that the Bulgarian secret services alerted their KGB colleagues in Moscow to the damage being done by Markov's broadcasts.

In 2010, it was announced that the assassination of Georgi Markov might soon be solved, after Scotland Yard officers examined secret files in Bulgaria.

Counter-terrorism detectives spent two weeks in Sofia sifting through the communist-era archives with the hope charges could be brought over one of the Cold War's most high-profile unsolved mysteries.

Meanwhile, the prestigious TIME magazine ranked Markov's murder among the top ten assassination plots.

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Tags: Georgi Markov, umbrella, Murder, Bulgarian, London, KGB, communist, francesco gullino, DS, KGB, Dane Francesco Gullino, Piccadilly, Wanderer, ictator, communist, 100th anniversary, exhbit, museum, regime, totalitarian, Pravets, Todor Zhivkov, Bulgarian Umbrella, Oleg Kalugin, Oleg Gordievski


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