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Georgi Markov

RFE/RL contributor

Georgi Markov died in London in 1978 after being stabbed in the leg with an umbrella containing the lethal poison ricin. He was 49.

Markov covered life in Bulgarian intellectual circles for RFE/RL.

Markov was well-known in his native Bulgaria for his “My Talks with Todor Zhivkov” series, based on personal knowledge of the former Communist leader. He was also an acclaimed novelist and playwright prior to his defection to the West in 1969. Markov settled in England and became a broadcast journalist for Radio Free Europe, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), and the German international broadcast service, Deutsche Welle.

He was the target of three separate assassination attempts. The first was made in Munich in the spring of 1978 when Markov was visiting friends and colleagues at Radio Free Europe and someone put a toxin into his drink at a dinner party held in his honor. The second assassination attempt occurred on the Italian island of Sardinia, where Markov was on summer vacation with his family. The final, successful attempt was staged in London on September 11, 1978.

Markov had a wife and daughter at the time of his death.