December 07, 2010

The Murder Bureau: “Service 7” Terror Against Bulgarian Exiles

The Murder Bureau (Otdel za Ubujstva) is a recently publshed book written by acclaimed journalist Alexenia Dimitrova of the daily newspaper 24 Hours (24 Chasa) in Bulgaria. 

Her book, in the Bulgarian language, is based on her research into 5,000 previously classified Top Secret documents of the First Directorate of the Committee on State Security. These documents reveal exclusive details about the existence of "Service 7," a counter-espionage unit  charged with carrying out the most sensitive - and deadly - covert operations against 10 so-called “enemies of the Bulgarian state.” The targets of these operations were identified by code names such as “The Black.” “Lackey,” “Traitor,” “X,” “Hamlet,” “Betrayer,” “Blind Man,” “Ox” and “Widower" -- Bulgarian emigres in Italy, France, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Turkey and Ethiopia. 
    The documents were written between 1963 and 1972 under the acronym OM, which in Bulgarian means “ostri meropriatia” or “acute (extreme) actions.” The book contains copies nearly 100 original documents, which reveal details about "Service 7"' secret operations and its targets, including:

    • when and how the super-secret special bureau was created,
    • who its targets were,
    • how the operations were prepared,
    • when and where they were to be carried out,
    • what weapons were used,
    • how the weapons were secured,
    • who the perpetrators were,
    • how they were trained,
    • what support they received from the Soviet KGB.

    "Service 7" was created in 1963 with a staff of four intelligence officers; by 1967 it had grown to 39. In one of the documents, among the names of executors discussed was the codename Piccadilly – involved in the murder of the Bulgarian writer George Markov on London in 1978 - the case known as the Bulgarian Umbrella. 
    Joint Action

    Dimitrova found letters exchanged between Bulgarian and Czech (StB), East German (Stasi) and Soviet intelligence services (KGB) asking for help in activities of "Service 7."

    She is now seeking a publisher for an English language version of The Murder Bureau. Dimitrova said she wrote the book because, "The ultimate judge is the moral court ... The important thing is that the truth must come out."

    Alexenia Dimtrova is also the author of The Iron Fist - Inside the Bulgarian and American Secret Archives, London, Artnick Publishing 2005. The same book (under the title The War of the Spies) was published in Bulgaria in October 2005. She also wrote The King's Secret files published in 2009 in Bulgarian - 400 pages, including copies of secret documents gathered by Bulgarian State Security against the Bulgarian king Simeon Saxe Coburg and his family between 1946-1993.

    For more information: 

    Chapter 3 of Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989, which also includes details of the apparent "Service 7" actions against Stefan Sverdlev (code name “Blind Man“), a former Bulgarian intelligence officer who defected to the West.

    For an interesting and detailed interview about her research that the International Spy Museum made with Alexenia Dimitrova in December 2010, visit

    Also, you can read in English about the book and some of her findings here.

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