UN man says Bulgaria tried to murder him

The curse of the poisoned umbrella tip returned to haunt Bulgaria yesterday after the country's top diplomat to the United Nations accused his own government of deploying dirty tricks against political opponents similar to those allegedly used against former dissidents.

In an extraordinary outburst, Slavi Pashovski, Bulgaria's ambassador to the UN and a fierce critic of the government, said that he had been the victim of a murder attempt and that he knew of at least one further such incident involving another senior Bulgarian diplomat.

At the same time he accused the country's leaders of being unreconstructed communists who were ruining the economy to enrich themselves.

"While the tears of the victims of communism have still not dried, we have been presenting new scenarios with a mafia plot," said Mr Pashovski. "Let us ... put an end to the infamy of the Bulgarian umbrella once and for all," he added in a reference to the bizarre killing in 1978 of Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian defector who died shortly after being stabbed in the leg by a poison-tipped umbrella on the streets of London.

Government representatives in Sofia quickly dismissed Mr Pashovski's charges as groundless, describing as "ridiculous" the claim that they had been behind an apparent attempt on his life involving tampering with the steering wheel of his car.

They also rejected the ambassador's claim that the Bulgarian ambassador to Albania, another government critic, had been driven off a cliff in the Macedonian mountains by a hired assassin.

"Mr Pashovski's allegations are pure flights of the imagination," said Panteley Karassimeonov, the foreign ministry spokesman in Sofia. "His conduct is quite inadmissible. It is both ridiculous and sad that a high- ranking diplomat can talk in such a way."

Mr Pashovski was originally appointed to the United Nations post in 1992 at the behest of the then governing Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and enjoyed the full blessing of the staunchly anti-communist President, Zhelyu Zhelev.

But relations with the government nosedived in 1994 when the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) - successors to the former ruling communists - romped to election victory.

Since then the new government has consistently sought the removal of Mr Pashovski and a host of other ambassadors who they believed to be appointees from the previous regime. Much to their annoyance, however, the only man in Bulgaria who has the power to hire and fire ambassadors is President Zhelev - who is the government's most ardent critic.

The result has been a political stalemate which has paralysed foreign policy and exacerbated the divisions between the pro-Nato approach of Mr Zhelev and the more ambiguous Moscow-friendly approach of the Socialists.

It has also - as in the case of Mr Pashovski - turned the country's foreign policy into farce. Thus, although he is Bulgaria's ambassador to the UN, Mr Pashovski has for two years running not been included on the government- chosen list for the Bulgarian delegation to the UN's annual general assembly. It was his exclusion from the current assembly, indeed, that triggered the latest row.

For most Bulgarians, such shenanigans have long since become a way of life, adding to a general sense of disillusionment with the 1989 revolution. With the economy in deep crisis and inflation set to reach 200 per cent this year, most people are more concerned about how to make ends meet.

But the row between Mr Pashovski and the government threatens to seriously damage the country's international standing. "Of course this sort of thing does us harm, but then, Bulgaria is a funny country," said a government source.

Moderates hope the situation will improve after the presidential election in late October in which Mr Zhelev will not be standing.

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone