Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Questions while reading today's New York Times

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings
Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king.
-- "Sweetheart Like You" words and music by Bob Dylan
(from the Dylan album Infidels)

Was anyone else bothered by this in today's New York Times?

In analyzing Mr. Yushchenko's case, Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who now lives outside Washington, said it appeared to be "certainly an attempt to remove him from the political scene."

Mr. Kalugin speaks from unusually direct experience. In 1978, he passed along orders directing Soviet agents to supply the Bulgarian secret service with a spring-loaded umbrella that was later used to deliver a dose of the poison ricin, killing the Bulgarian dissident Georgi I. Markov in London (

Oleg D. Kalugin "now lives outside Washington" and is anyone else scratching their heads over that? If this article is correct ("Poison's Use as Political Tool: Ukraine Is Not Exceptional" by Scott Shane), Kalugin "passed along orders" that led to the (planned and intended) death of "Bulgarian dissident Georgi I. Markov in London."

"In 1995, Kalugin came to the U.S. to take up a teaching position at the Catholic University of America and has since remained" (

You can find additional info on Kalugin at the following:

On page A8 of today's Times, we learn that Tariq Ramadan "has resigned his teaching post at the University of Notre Dame" as a result of being unable to get a visa into this country. "Unspecified security concerns" prevent Homeland Security from issuing professor Ramadan a visa.

And Kalugin?

Steal a little . . .

On the front page of the paper you see L. Paul Bremer III (looking a lot like Nathan Lane, by the way), George Tenet and Tommy Franks getting decorated by Bush. Yet on page A13, Warren Hoge's "U.N. Criticizes Iraq Occupation Oil Sales" ( appears.

The watchdog panel, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, cited three main concerns over oil sales under the Coalition Provisional Authority: the absence of metering to keep track of how much oil was being pumped from Iraqi fields, noncompetitive bidding procedures for many contracts, and barter transactions with countries in the immediate region. The problem with the metering continues.

Who was supposed to be in charge over there?

Headed by the American diplomat L. Paul Bremer III, the provisional authority was the administrator of Iraq from the invasion in March 2003 until its dissolution as the occupation authority on June 28, 2004, with the formal return of sovereignty to Iraq.

Steal a lot and they make you . . .

Maybe there's a reason Kalugin remains in this country, maybe there isn't. Maybe there's a path to alleged problems with occupation oil sales in Iraq that leads somewhere other than Paul Bremmer, maybe there isn't.

Bremer got decorated. Kalugin lives in the US and makes speeches. Iraqis may have been ripped off. Georgi I. Markov is dead.

Information on Markov can be found at

From the last site (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty):

Bulgaria officially closed the case on 20 September 2000 -- 22 years after Markov's death -- when prosecutors cited a law allowing them to close any case over 20 years old.

On 28 December 2000, Markov was posthumously honored in Sofia when President Stoyanov presented the Order of Stara Planina, Bulgaria's highest honor, to Markov's daughter Sasha. The citation made mention of Markov's "remarkable contribution to Bulgarian literature and his opposition to the communist authorities." Stoyanov, however, did not admit that Bulgarian agents had killed Markov.

On 12 April 2002, the Supreme Court in Sofia sentenced former Interior Minister General Atanas Semerdjiev to four-and-a-half-years' imprisonment. General Nanka Serkedjieva, the former head of the "secret police" archives, received a two-year sentence for destroying 140,000 intelligence files, some of which related to Markov.

In effect, the case of "Who Killed Georgi Markov?" was finally closed without a finding of guilt, and it seems that it will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of the Cold War. Markov was a victim of ultimate censorship: state-sponsored terrorism. Sadly, he has become a historical footnote, but his death proved how far a totalitarian regime would go to protect itself from the truth.

In a small churchyard in Whitchurch, Dorset, England, the epitaph on his gravestone proclaims that Georgi Markov died for the "cause of freedom."

[Note: This post has been edited. Thanks to Shirley, Mara and Bill who caught that Scott Shane's name had been wrongly spelled "Schott Shane" by me. I've also reduced the font of the links to "times."]