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Communists Said Behind Dissident Killing; Scotland Yard Getting Involved

June 6, 1991

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Senior Bulgarian officials say they’re convinced agents of the ousted Communist government killed a dissident in London with a poison-tipped umbrella in 1978.

Scotland Yard is helping Bulgarian investigators in the probe, a British spokeswoman said in London today.

Two British intelligence officials arrived Wednesday, Bulgaria’s official news agency BTA said. One Bulgarian official said he expected indictments in the case.

In another development, Italy says it has begun looking into allegations by a purported former Bulgarian intelligence official that the Soviet KGB ordered the shooting of Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1981.

Under its new non-Communist president, Zhelyu Zhelev, Bulgaria is allowing investigations into the two cases, which touch on events that occurred during the regime of Todor Zhivkov, the longtime Communist ruler ousted in 1989.

Georgi Markov, a British Broadcasting Corp. journalist, was killed with a poison-tipped umbrella as he waited for a bus in London.

″No one can ever convince me that writer Georgi Markov was not assassinated by the Bulgarian secret services,″ Interior Minister Hristo Danov told BTA on Wednesday.

Danov said ″sensational″ disclosures could be expected soon about Markov’s murder and the disappearance of his police file, BTA reported. The file fills 17 200-page volumes.

The Bulgarian ambassador to London, Ivan Stancioff, told BBC television today that ousted Communist leaders were responsible for Markov’s murder.

″I certainly assume that Zhivkov and some other people involved in his government who have paraded their innocence in the last few years will be indicted,″ Stancioff said.

In the case of the pope shooting, a Milan newspaper ran an account of what it said was a recounting by a former Bulgarian secret services official.

Konstantin Karadzhov was quoted as saying he was ordered by the Soviet secret services, the KGB, to organize the assassination of the the pope.

The account also claimed the CIA was informed of the alleged plot shortly before the May 13, 1981 shooting but didn’t stop it.

The CIA has denied the claim, and a man identifying himself as Karadzhov has denied in an Italian state radio interview that he was ordered by the KGB to organize an attack.

In an interview on Bulgarian television Tuesday night, the man said he never worked for the Bulgarian secret services.

Karadzhov told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the secret police was behind the allegation.

″The facts in the newspaper are absurd,″ he said.

Karadzhov said that at one point during Zhivkov’s regime he was arrested for allegedly criticizing the communist government. He said he was interrogated ″in the most brutal fashion″ and that the secret service sought to ″fabricate various charges.″

Italian Interior Minister Vincenzo Scotti, asked if Italian intelligence has ascertained whether Karadzhov ever worked for Sofia’s secret services, would only say the investigation was in the hands of Italian magistrates.

Allegations of an East-bloc plot were made by the Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk convicted of shooting the pope. He is serving a life sentence in an Italian prison for the shooting, which occurred in St. Peter’s Square.

In 1986, an Italian court acquitted for lack of insufficient evidence three Bulgarians and three Turks tried for conspiring in an alleged East-bloc plot to kill the pontiff.

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