According to the documents, the operation failed but the officers discussed it in the reports as the first and very useful experience. They continued working on it in the next years. Among the ideas was for a woman-collaborator to attract Slavenov to travel to Vienna. According to the reports this attempt failed too.
I tried to find Slavenov in Italy. Unfortunately it turned out that he died in 1996. But I found his daughter Elza. I understood from her that her father somehow knew about the actions prepared against him and he was very cautious. He applied different techniques to escape from the people who followed him. One day he has left his home at 6:30 pm, on the next day at 9 pm, one day he returned at 6 pm, on the other after 11 pm. He also changed several times the home latch-lock and he shifted his daily routes.
The daughter also told me in detail how her father had escaped from the plan to kidnap him on the ship. An Italian friend of his called him to ask to be a translator helping Bulgarian ship crew accosted to Trieste to resolve a mechanical problem with the vessel. Slavenov doubted this story and refused to get on the ship. He was sure that it was a well prepared trap.
Slavenov returned to Bulgaria only after the fall of Berlin fall in 1989. Despite all the actions against him and all his fears throughout the years, he very much loved his country. He wanted to die here. In 1996 he was buried in his native village not far from Plovdiv, South Bulgaria.
FP: How about another case?
Dimitrova: Another target of the Murder Bureau was Traycho Belopopski, an ex-officer from the First Directorate of the Bulgarian Intelligence who escaped to the UK in the early 60’s and was sentenced to death in 1964.
I found him alive in New York in 2006. The documents stated that he was also a target of the secret Service 7. My interest was provoked by his court cases, which I read in the archives.
In 2006 Belopopsky was afraid to talk. However, in a private correspondence he mentioned that years ago his father had visited him in London and brought him a piece of salami. Knowing the methods of his former colleagues he was suspicious of the food and tossed it to a street dog. It immediately died in agony.
Asked about the case, one of the high ranking ex officers of the Bulgarian Intelligence Col. Dimo Stankov denied that the institution has planed any operation against Belopopsky. He also denied knowing that the emigrant got a death sentence.
“We tried having him come back by sending his father and his brother on law to persuade him to return, but when he failed, we gave up,” claimed Stankov.
The recently discovered reports of the secret Department refuted these claims. Just the opposite – they confirmed that Belopopsky was one of the planed victims of Service 7 under 2 code names “The Black” and “Mavrov”. Obviously he was able to survive, escaping from UK to the USA where he married for 3rd time. Belopopsky’s first wife and daughter, who left in Bulgaria after his emigration, never saw him again.
There are 8 more cases of émigrés-targets of the Bulgarian SMERSH between 1963 and 1974 described in Murder Bureau. The book contains nearly 100 document facsimiles, which reveal all the details about the secret operations and its targets.
FP: What is the significance of these findings?
Dimitrova: For first time I found documentary evidences of the existence of special unit responsible for so-called sharp measures. Untill now we all knew the notorious case of the so-called Bulgarian Umbrella – the killing of the Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov in London in September 1978. Obviously long before this assassination, strategies and people were prepared to perpetrate such assignments.
FP: Alexenia Dimitrova, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
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