On September 7th, 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian defector working for the BBC World Service was walking across Waterloo Bridge when he felt a sharp pain in his leg. The man behind him who was carrying an umbrella fled in a taxi. Four days later Markov died in hospital, and a post-mortem found he had been injected with a pellet containing the deadly poison ricin, probably injected from a weapon disguised as an umbrella.
He was murdered on the orders of Todor Zhivkov, the Communist dictator of Bulgaria for 35 years. His rule tolerated no dissent, and writers had to toe the party line and parrot its praises. Those who were reluctant were persecuted and denied publication and recognition. Markov defected in Italy and settled in London, where he learned English and found work with the BBC. He was sentenced in absentia to six-and-a-half years for his defection.
Todor Zhivkov was a thug, one whose extremist approach led to the largest ethnic cleansing of the Cold Ear period. He ordered a forcible assimilation of Bulgaria’s Turkish minority, forcing them all to adopt Bulgarian names. Resistance to his led to riots, so he expelled 360,000 of them over the Turkish border. This brutality appalled even his Soviet and Warsaw Pace colleagues, and he was forced to resign in 1989. Within a month Communist rule in Bulgaria ended, as it did across central and Eastern Europe.
No-one was ever charged with the murder of Georgi Markov, carried out in broad daylight on a London Street, but KGB defectors Oleg Kalugin and Oleg Gordievsky later confirmed that the KGB arranged the murder at the request of the Bulgarian Secret Service, whose agent, Francesco Gullino, was given the weapon. The documents concerning the case were later destroyed to remove hard evidence.
After his death, Markov’s works were withdrawn from circulation in Bulgaria, and his name was not mentioned by their media until after the fall of Communism in 1989.
Communist dictators routinely ordered the murders of defectors living in the West, and several were victims, or had unsuccessful attempts made against them. The same pattern can be seen today, with ex-KGB Putin ordering similar attacks against dissidents and defectors. Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in London in 2006 with radioactive polonium-210, on Putin’s orders. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok sprayed onto their door handle by Russian agents who have since been named and identified by Western media investigators.
It illustrates the utter contempt the Communists and their like-minded successors have shown for international law and due process. They kill people who oppose their tyranny. It reminds us of the need for vigilance. Thankfully the UK has not thus far fallen under the rule of such a sociopathic ideology.