Who killed Georgi Markov?





It was one of the legends of the Cold War: a Bulgarian dissident writer, Georgi Markov, dying in a London hospital of a mysterious fever after being injected with a poison pellet from a specially adapted umbrella as he walked to work across Waterloo Bridge.

A prominent novelist in his native land when he defected to the West in 1969, Markov had become a journalist at the BBC's Bulgarian service and an unflinching critic of communist rule and Bulgaria's longtime leader Todor Zhivkov.

His death received lurid coverage in the West, offered up as further proof of the nefarious acts of Soviet bloc secret services. Markov had told a colleague four days before he died that he felt a sharp pain in his leg as he walked to work, then turned around to see a stranger picking up an umbrella from the sidewalk.

Now, exactly 30 years later, fresh mystery swirls around the death, Markov's suspected assassin (a Dane of Italian origin) and the prospect of ever bringing clarity and closure to the alleged crimes of communism.

A Bulgarian journalist, Hristo Hristov, is releasing a book - "The Double Life of Agent Piccadilly" - that he says demonstrates how the communist regime eliminated one of its most eloquent opponents.

Based on the first outside look at previously classified state security documents, Hristov concludes that Markov was killed by one Francesco Gullino, a sometime smuggler arrested twice in Bulgaria and given the choice of jail or becoming an agent.

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