google10fa0980c6101c7f.html The Many Faces of Death: DEATH by Umbrella - Georgi Markov, BULGARIA


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

0 DEATH by Umbrella - Georgi Markov, BULGARIA

Georgi Ivanov Markov (Bulgarian: Георги Иванов Марков) (March 1, 1929 – September 11, 1978) was a Bulgarian dissident writer.

Markov originally worked as a novelist and playwright, but in 1969 he defected from Bulgaria, then governed by President Todor Zhivkov. After relocating to the West, he worked as a broadcaster and journalist for the BBC World Service, the US-funded Radio Free Europe, and Germany's Deutsche Welle. Markov used such forums to conduct a campaign of criticism against the incumbent Bulgarian regime. As a result of this, it has been speculated that the Bulgarian government may have decided to silence him, and may have asked the KGB for help.

Writer and dissident
In 1969 Georgi Markov left for Bologna, Italy where his brother lived. His initial idea was to wait until his reputation in Bulgaria improved, but he gradually changed his mind and decided to stay in the West, especially after September 1971 when the Bulgarian government refused to extend his passport. Markov moved to London where he learned English and started working for the Bulgarian section of the BBC World Service (1972). He tried to work for the film industry, hoping for help from Peter Uvaliev, but was unsuccessful. Later he also worked with Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe. In 1972 Markov’s membership in the Union of Bulgarian Writers was suspended and he was sentenced in absentia to six years and six months in prison for his defection.

His works were withdrawn from libraries and bookshops and his name was not mentioned by the official Bulgarian media until 1989. The Bulgarian Secret Service started Markov’s file under the code name “Wanderer”. In 1974 his play To Crawl Under the Rainbow was staged in London, while in Edinburgh the play Archangel Michael, written in English, won first prize. The novel The Right Honourable Chimpanzee, coauthored by David Phillips, was published after his death. In 1975 Markov married Annabelle Dilk. The couple have a daughter, Alexandra-Raina, born a year later.

Between 1975 and 1978 Markov worked on his In Absentia Reports analysis of life in Communist Bulgaria. They were broadcast weekly on Radio Free Europe. Their criticism of the Communist government and personally of the Party leader Todor Zhivkov made Markov even more an enemy of the regime.

Agents of the Bulgarian secret police, Darzhavna Sigurnost (Bulgarian: Държавна сигурност, abbreviated ДС), assisted by the KGB, had previously made two failed attempts to kill Markov before a third attempt succeeded. On 7 September 1978 (the birthday of Todor Zhivkov), Markov walked across Waterloo Bridge spanning the River Thames, and waited at a bus stop to take a bus to his job at the BBC. He felt a slight sharp pain, as a bug bite or sting, on the back of his right thigh. He looked behind him and saw a man picking up an umbrella off the ground. The man hurriedly crossed to the other side of the street and got in a taxi which then drove away. The event is recalled as the "Umbrella Murder" with the assassin claimed to be Francesco Gullino, codenamed Piccadilly".
When he arrived at work at the BBC World Service offices he noticed a small red pimple had formed at the site of the sting he'd felt earlier and the pain had not lessened or stopped. He told at least one of his colleagues at the BBC about this incident. That evening he developed a fever and was admitted to a hospital where he died three days later, on 11 September 1978, at the age of 49. The cause of death was poisoning from a ricin-filled pellet

His grave is in a small churchyard at Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset. His In Absentia Reports were published in Bulgaria in 1990, after the end of the Communist government.

In 2000, Markov was posthumously awarded the Order of Stara Planina, Bulgaria's most prestigious honour, for his “significant contribution to the Bulgarian literature, drama and non-fiction and for his exceptional civic position and confrontation to the Communist regime.”


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