|A picture or Georgi Markov.|
Poisoning dissidents of a government is nothing new. Just yesterday, I talked about Alexander Litvinenko, a man who was poisoned with Polonium-210. However, decades for that questionable death, there was another that took place in London: the murder (or assassination if you will) of Georgi Markov.
Born March 1, 1929 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Markov was an author and playwright in what was then the “People's Republic of Bulgaria”. However, in 1969, he went to Italy to stay with its brother who lived there in the hopes that the authorities back in Bulgaria would perhaps not hate him so much. As time went on though, Markov found himself enjoying the western world more and more. In September of 1971, Bulgaria refused to extend his passport. In response to this, Markov ended up moving to London, where he ended up learning English. It’s also here that he got a job as a radio broadcaster for BBC World Service; becoming extremely well known for his sarcastic criticism of the communist dictatorship that Bulgaria was under at the time. Markov was also know for often using a vitriolic rhetoric to paint a bleak and unfavorable picture of the country and its conditions.
His popularity ever rising, Markov would find himself working for both Deutsche Well and Radio Free Europe. However, with popularity comes detractors. In this, ti was the Bulgarian government, who suspended his Union of Bulgarian Writers membership and had his works taken off of library and bookstore shelves. His name would also not be mentioned by “official” Bulgarian media until 1989—over a decade after his murder. To top things off with a cherry made off ricin, the Bulgarian secret service opened a file on him and gave him the nickname of “Wanderer”.
In 1978, whole waiting at a bus stop to get to his job at BBC, Markov found himself in the company of another gentlemen who was seated beside him. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain course through on the back of his right thigh. When he looked over at his companion, he saw him hurriedly pick up his umbrella and make his way across the bridge they'd both come from; the unknown man getting into a taxi which sped off.
Upon his arrival at BBC, Markov realized the pain hadn't gone away. Stranger, a pimple had formed where he'd initially felt the pain begin. He told a few of his co-workers about the incident at the bus stop before going about his day as normal. By that evening however, the pain had escalated into a fever. Although he was admitted into s hospital, Markov ended up dying four days later at the age of 49. His cause of death was determined to have been from a pellet, a mere 0.07 inches in diameter, that contained the deadly poison ricin.
The story behind Markov's death is a short one and complimenting that is the theories. There exists a prime suspect—and it's one that many agree on. His name is Francesco Gullino, and he's still alive.
Codenamed “Piccadilly”, Gullino was arrested twice in Bulgaria in smuggling charges. After the second arrest, he was given a choice. Be thrown in jail or become a spy for them. He opted for the later and became an “art dealer”, and remained active until around 1990.
With the case of Markov, Gullino received assistance from everyone's favorite Big Daddy Government agency: the KGB. They presumably supplied the Bulgarian government with the ricin. Tasked with silencing a turncoat, Gullino is reported to have said something to the effect of, “no hard feelings” when he shot Markov.
So if our mystery is, for the most part, solved, when what's the mystery? Well, although we likely know who pulled the trigger, we don't know who wanted the trigger pulled
Both the Bulgarian government and the Soviet Union had reasons to want Georgi Markov dead. The Bulgaria's saw him as a turncoat and someone who'd discredit them from here to Kingdom Come. The Soviet Union hated everyone who wasn't the Soviet Union and can likely be tied to nearly every shady operation in the 20th century in some capacity.
Joking aside, even if one pins the government responsible for the murder, there's never been enough evidence to charge Gullino with the murder. As it stands: the assassination/murder of Georgi Markov is something straight out of a James Bond movie; something that even inspired a copycat murder in Germany where someone was stabbed with a poisoned umbrella. If memory serves, that murder is also unsolved. What a coincidence.