We have already looked at the time, when Radio Free Europe in the early 1950s exposed, through its broadcasts, “blackmailers, informers and quislings” in Czechoslovakia and Romania. Below is a look at when RFE exposed one “secret agent” in Bulgaria: Ivan Merchev.
Radio Free Europe first broadcast as the "Voice of Free Bulgaria" via shortwave on August 11, 1951. The first broadcast featured an address by Dr. G.M. Dimitrov, President of the Bulgarian National Committee and editor of its newspaper. In part he said, "No earthly power has been able to halt the fight of the people against tyranny, injustice and terror."
|Bluebook March 1955|
The RFE broadcast expose of Ivan Merchev was recounted by journalist Robert Bendiner in the March 1955 issue of Bluebook magazine:
The Battle of the Microphones
Ivan Mirchev was a minor Communist functionary in Bulgarian town of Russe," the story goes.
For a state tobacco inspector he was regarded as a pretty easy-going fellow.
He not only listened sympathetically to gripes about the regime but contributed some of his own. And to a few of the local farmers he even talked confidentially about forming an underground anti-Communist cell. Nobody but his superior in the secret police, he assumed, knew that his reports had sent Neighbor X to a forced labor camp in Tutrakan, or Comrade Y to a solitary cell in Sofia.
Then one evening, after a hard and dirty day’s work, he flipped on the radio and caught the voice of Radio Free Europe:
'Today we will take up the case of Ivan Mirchev, a former insurance agent and now a secret agent of the State Security Service in Russe. Dear listeners, try to remember his name well, because some day you will need it. … Here in brief is the career of this traitor to the Bulgarian people.'
What followed was a complete description of Mirchev, down to the mole on his chin, and a full account of his shady operations --with names, dates and details.
As a secret operative, Comrade Mirchev was done. And when you are done in a Communist state, you are apt to be well done --a point that broadcasters for Radio Free Europe are fond of driving home. There are hundreds of Mirchevs in Bulgaria and thousands of their counterparts in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, and they are not sleeping well.
While diplomats have wrangled and politicians scolded, Radio Free Europe has been laying down a deadly electronic barrage on the Iron Curtain countries, since July 4, 1950.
"The Battle of the Microphones"
Vol 100, #5. p. 30