Bulgarian umbrella

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Speculative design of the weapon
  1. Trigger in umbrella handle
  2. Umbrella handle
  3. Spring to push linkage system
  4. Linkage system linking trigger to valve
  5. Cylinder of compressed air
  6. Switch that activates valve
  7. Valve that fires ricin pellet through the 'barrel' of the umbrella.

A Bulgarian umbrella is an umbrella with a hidden pneumatic mechanism which injects a small poisonous pellet containing ricin. It has a hollowed stalk in which the pellet neatly sits.

Recorded usage[edit]

Such an umbrella was used in and named for the assassination of the Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov on 7 September 1978[1] (the birthday of the Bulgarian State Council chairman Todor Zhivkov, who had often been the target of Georgi Markov's criticism) on Waterloo Bridge in London. Markov died four days later.

It was also allegedly used in the failed assassination attempt against the Bulgarian dissident journalist Vladimir Kostov the same year in the Paris Métro. The poison used in both cases was ricin. Both assassination attempts are believed to have been organized by the Bulgarian Secret Service of the time of the Cold War with the assistance of the KGB.[2]

Such an umbrella was intended to be used in the assassination of Pallo Jordan and Ronnie Kasrils by the South African Civil Cooperation Bureau death squad.[3]

Cultural influence[edit]

These two cases inspired:

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (23 March 2013). "Prime suspect in Georgi Markov "umbrella poison" murder tracked down to Austria" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  2. ^ Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent (19 June 2008). "Poison-tip umbrella assassination of Georgi Markov reinvestigated". Telegraph.co.uk.
  3. ^ "How an assassin bungled a deadly umbrella plot". Independent.co.uk. 16 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Bulgarian umbrella - Gadgets Now". Gadget Now.