Secret documents say Markov's killer was given a medal





The assassination of the journalist Georgi Markov in London in 1978 by a man wielding a poison-tipped umbrella was one of the most infamous episodes of the Cold War and brought relations between Britain and Bulgaria to breaking point. Thirty years on, with the Bulgarian authorities closing the case on the anniversary of the dissident's death this Thursday, secret official documents have uncovered the truth behind the killing.

The papers, from the archives of Bulgaria's National Intelligence Service reveal how discussions about the assassination took place between the KGB and the Bulgarian intelligence services. They show how the suspected killer, Francesco Gulino (also spelt Gullino and Giullino), referred to as Agent Piccadilly, was given the mission and later decorated for his services. Among the documents is a secret agreement between Bulgarian intelligence and the KGB, whereby Russia would provide fast-acting poisons and devices for their delivery.

Several classified documents relating to the assassination, secured after a three-year legal battle by the Bulgarian journalist Hristo Hristov, are to be published in Bulgaria's Dnevnik newspaper this week.

Other revelations in the Bulgarian newspaper Sofia Echo suggest parallels with the case of Alexander Litvinenko, the critic of the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who was fatally poisoned in London in 2006.

While the Bulgarian authorities are preparing to shelve their investigations, under a 30-year statute of limitations, the Metropolitan Police remain on the case. Several visits have been made by Scotland Yard in the past two years to gain access to classified documents and interview dozens of people.


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