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1978: Umbrella stab victim dies

Writer and broadcaster Georgi Markov has died of blood poisoning, four days after he said he was stabbed with an umbrella at a London bus stop.

Scotland Yard said they are treating his death as suspicious and samples of his blood have been sent to the Porton Down Germ Warfare Centre for examination.

Mr Markov, who defected to the West in 1969, said he had felt a stinging pain in his leg while waiting for a bus on Waterloo Bridge, and turned to see an unidentified man picking up an umbrella.

The dissident Bulgarian was on his way to the Bush House headquarters of the BBC World Service, where he has made often critical broadcasts about the communist regime in his home country.


"I can't believe people go round stabbing other people with umbrellas"

Annabel Markov

Annabel Markov said that on Thursday evening her husband had showed her a small mark on his leg which looked like the prick of a hypodermic needle.

Mrs Markov told the BBC he had described to her what had happened, but said she found it hard to accept.

"I've been brought up in this country - I can't believe people go round stabbing other people with umbrellas," she said.

But his publisher, David Farrer, said Mr Markov was a highly political animal who knew he was a possible target for assassination.

Mr Farrer described a recent incident when a young Bulgarian who was introduced to the BBC broadcaster said to him: "'I've been sent to murder you, but I'm not going to do it - I'm going to take the money and vanish.'"

In Context
Coroners ruled the following year that Georgi Markov had been "unlawfully killed" after being injected with the deadly poison ricin.

In 1998 the Bulgarian President, Peter Stoyanov, described the assassination as one of the darkest moments in his country's former communist regime.

But in September 2000 Bulgarian prosecutors closed the investigation under legislation allowing unsolved cases to be dropped after 20 years.

In June 2005, leaked Bulgarian secret service files revealed the assassin was Francesco Giullino, a Dane who had been recruited by Durzgavna Sigurnost - the Bulgarian equivalent of the KGB - in 1946.


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