The Bulgarian State Security used every chance to pick up at the West – sometimes quite hilariously (although the comrades were dead serious)
Issue 38, November 2009
by Antony Georgieff
You thought the KGB in the Soviet Union, the Stasi in East Germany, the StB in Czechoslovakia and the Securitate in Romania were repressive agencies that terrorised millions of their own citizens and that would use every chance to sabotage the West, ranging from propaganda to drugs and arms smuggling? Quite right. All of those were responsible for heinous crimes such as sending innocent people to Communist labour camps as well as organising "wet jobs" such as the 1978 assassination of Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov in London and the 1981 attempt to murder Pope John Paul in Rome. The climate of fear that the KGB and its sister agencies, of which the Bulgarian State Security, or Darzhavna sigurnost was the most subservient, has been unparalleled in human history and can best be described through a work of fiction: George Orwells' 1984. But don't think that the guys who ran these agencies were sleek Eastern-style James Bonds who drove fast cars, spoke several languages and excelled in sophisticated espionage techniques. More often than not they were simple peasants, or sons and daughters of peasants, who had been selected for their jobs on the basis of party loyalty rather than because they had any particular professional talent. As a result, their activities, paid for by the taxpayer, were pure nonsense. Seen from the standpoint of 2009, they appear hilarious. But at the time they were quite real, sinisterly.
Here we reprint in full and word for word a top secret memo written by a senior State Security Official, and declassified after the collapse of Communism. The original of this document, as well as plenty of other Cold War material, is hosted at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington DC as part of its Cold War archives. More on www.wilsoncenter.org.
Interior Ministry Reg. No 16813, Copy No 1 31. 12. 1982 Sofia
TO COL GEN GRIGOR SHOPOV 1ST DEPUTY MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR
by Lt Gen P. Stoyanov, Head of Department 06, State Security
RE: Opportunity to carry out compromising activities directed at CIA and US President Reagan
Comrade First Deputy Minister,
We are witnessing an organised ideological sabotage aimed at the People's Republic of Bulgaria and the USSR, probably organised by the CIA (the Antonov case), as well as deliberate psychological pressure on West European countries to adopt the militaristic doctrines of the United States. As is well known, imperialism uses US President R. Reagan as its standard-bearer. Having in mind the probable escalation of the hostile campaign against the People's Republic of Bulgaria in the coming year 1983, I suggest we actively avail of the opportunity to compromise the CIA and US President Reagan.
As is also known, Reagan has ambitions as an actor. The press has announced that he will hold a one-hour talk with the children of the United States every week on TV. He will also play the main role in The Assassination Attempt on the President documentary (that is, the attempt on his own life).
According to firearms experts, the assassination attempt on his life in 1981 bore all the hallmarks of a staged drama. As we know, it was made at a time when, as the polls indicated, he was losing popularity with the US population. In addition, when viewing the documentary videotape footage and the official statements, the following things come to light:
- The assassin uses a revolver (and not a pistol) with a short barrel and double-action trigger. This means that when firing each shot (when pressing the trigger), the cylinder turns and the hammer is cocked and released simultaneously. In such a case, it is impossible to take accurate aim; triggering leads to a "jerk" and the "accurate fire" is broken after every "shot" by the firearm kick and it takes time to aim again.
- The assassin fired six bullets under the above conditions within a very short time (the five shots after the first one): 2.2–2.3 seconds. The best marksmen in the world would not be able to hit targets successfully under such conditions. In the fastest rapid-fire pistol event they fire 5 shots in 4.7–4.8 seconds using special small-calibre pistols (not revolvers) with weak "short" cartridges and equipped with muzzle brakes (recoil compensators), special aiming devices, grips and a particularly low trigger-pull weight.
- The assassin's shots hit three people (including the president), but all three of them survived although they were hit in vital parts of the body.
- Although Reagan was hit in the chest, the video footage shows no reflex reactions of his body (not even muscle twitches).
- Although he was hit, the bullet "rebounded from his rib" and, moreover, the poison it was covered with "did not take effect."
- So, everybody is alive and well and two days after the assassination attempt (and the subsequent surgery) Reagan was back ruling the country, as a hero.
- After a lengthy investigation, the assassin was not convicted because he was found to be insane.
As can be seen, there are a number of strange circumstances regarding this attempted assassination. Analogies may be found with the assassination attempt on the pope. All this gives us the opportunity of making a TV film that will increase doubts about these attempted assassinations (especially Reagan's). The film will be shown by the networks of the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, which are watched in the neighbouring West European countries. It should not contain direct accusations of fraud against the president and the CIA, but its content ought to make viewers think.
Besides the documentary footage, we can make use of old (cowboy) films where the character played by Reagan is "shot" or "killed."
We could include interviews with:
- a well-known marksman who has won international awards (about the possibility of aiming accurately with the assassin's revolver);
- a firearms coach – about the likelihood of hitting three men;
- a crime investigator – about the features of the weapon;
- a medical doctor – about the ricochet from the rib, the poison, the condition of a man wounded under such circumstances and Reagan's reaction when "hit;"
- we could include a shooting demonstration under similar circumstances by a highly-qualified sportsman and so on.
With a suitable script, such a film could have a serious influence on public opinion in Western Europe (and elsewhere in the world) in the current complex international situation.
To make the film, we can use the resources of the Interior Ministry Propaganda Department (Lach) or, if necessary, similar departments of the fraternal countries' ministries.
Lieut. General P. Stoyanov Head of Department
Written in 2 copies No 1 Dep. Minister No 2 Dept. 06 State Security Executed by Kozlovski Written by Tsvetanska
Comrade Stoyanov, Discuss the idea with the First Head Department and then we will talk it over in other places too. Gr. Shopov
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers