Bulgaria finds spies in high places
Over 100 former spies have walked Bulgaria's corridors of power
More than a hundred former secret police agents have served in Bulgaria's governments since the fall of communism, a parliamentary commission has revealed.
The 121 agents included a former foreign affairs minister, defence minister and deputy prime minister.
They worked as spies, in military or civil counter-espionage or for the country's secret police during the reign of communism.
"The report is based on authentic documents and facts which have been found in the archives," the commission's Deputy Chairman, Evgeni Dimitrov, said.
The head of the commission, Metodi Andreev, said he had also received information that two prime ministers had been involved with the security services but they had not been named for lack of evidence.
Only 41 people, who could irrefutably be proved to have worked with the secret police, were named in the report.
Break with the past
The commission was set up after parliament approved a law to allow wide-ranging investigations into communist-era activities.
Simeon II won on a pledge to bring new blood into Bulgaria's government
Ahead of this month's general election the commission revealed that at least 78 of the prospective parliamentary candidates were former police agents.
Some political parties removed people revealed as spies from their ticket.
The election was won by a new political party led by the former king, Simeon II, who campaigned on a platform of breaking with the past.
For many in Bulgaria it is vital that their corridors of power are purged of former communists if they are to achieve their ambitions of Nato and EU membership.
But some think too much time has already passed to investigate fully who was involved in the secret police.
Forty percent of files were destroyed by security officials after the fall of communism in 1989.
Italy revisits plot to kill Pope
Italy is to reopen an inquiry into the 1981 attempted murder of Pope John Paul II after Bulgaria pledged to grant it access to classified documents.
According to Italian media reports, they contain evidence that the attack was planned by the Soviet KGB.
The secret service of the former East Germany - the Stasi - and its Bulgarian counterpart reportedly took part too.
Bulgarian secret agents allegedly recruited the Turkish hitman Ali Agca, who is currently in jail in Turkey.
Paolo Guzzanti, the head of a special Italian parliamentary committee of inquiry, is expected to travel to Bulgaria to examine the papers.
Italian investigators also want to question Agca again.
Metodi Andreev, a former official in charge of the Bulgarian archive, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the documents had been kept in a room "with sealed windows and doors".
"It is an intense correspondence between the Stasi and the Darzavna Sigurnost, the Bulgarian secret service," he told the paper.
He said it took several months to translate about 1,000 secret letters.
One of them "was a request by Darzavna Sigurnost agents to the Stasi to do whatever possible to exonerate Bulgaria, prove its innocence before the world and protect its agents".
Bulgaria has kept the papers under lock and key since, but government spokesman Dimitar Tzonev earlier this week said they would be handed over to Italian investigators.
The latest developments appear to confirm that the initial trail followed by Italian magistrates was correct.
Soon after the attack it emerged that Agca had stayed in Bulgaria several times and suspicion fell immediately on the country's secret service.
Italian judge Ferdinando Imposimato, who was in charge of the investigation at the time, told Italian radio on Monday he believed Agca had retracted initial confessions after being intimidated.
"I believe Agca initially said many true things, but then he tried to torpedo the trial after being threatened inside Rebibbia jail [in Rome] by Bulgarian and KGB secret agents, who got inside to make sure he would retract his allegations," he said.
Italy jailed Agca for the attack, but pardoned him in 2000. He was then handed over to Turkish authorities.
He is now serving a 10-year sentence in Turkey for unrelated crimes.
Judge Imposimato said he hoped the new developments would also help solve the case of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican official, who was kidnapped as a teenager in 1983 and has never been found.
Many believe she was abducted to put pressure on Italy and the Vatican, and prevent them from revealing sensitive elements that had emerged during the inquiry.
On Thursday, Agca, who has repeatedly said he was instructed by God, claimed Vatican officials had helped him plan the attack.
"Without the help of priests and cardinals, I would not have been able to carry out the action," La Repubblica website quoted him as saying.
"The devil is within the Vatican," he added.
The Vatican was quick to dismiss the claim.
"I think this is a load of rubbish. Anyway, Ali Agca has always been one to mislead, rather than to reveal true facts," Cardinal Roberto Tucci told Vatican Radio.
Stasi Files Implicate KGB in Pope Shooting
Did Mehmet Ali Agca use the gun (left) under KGB orders?
Recently unearthed documents from the ex-East German secret police, the Stasi, appear to pin the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on the KGB. Italy and Bulgaria have pledged to investigate the claim.
New documents found in the files of the former East German intelligence services confirm the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II was ordered by the Soviet KGB and assigned to Bulgarian and East German agents.
According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the documents found by the German government indicated that the KGB ordered Bulgarian colleagues to carry out the killing, leaving the East German service known as the Stasi to coordinate the operation and cover up the traces afterwards.
Bulgaria then handed the execution of the plot to Turkish extremists, including Mehmet Ali Agca, who pulled the trigger.
Ali Agca, who is now in jail in Turkey, claimed after his arrest that the operation was under the control of the Bulgarian embassy in Rome. The Bulgarians have always insisted they were innocent and argued that Agca's story was part of an anti-communist plot by the Italian secret service and the CIA.
Bulgaria and Italy to cooperate
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Secrets to be unraveledThe documents consist mostly of letters from Stasi operatives to their Bulgarian counterparts seeking help in covering up traces after the attack and denying Bulgarian involvement.
So far, Bulgaria has declared its readiness to give Italy all the information it possesses about the alleged involvement of its then Communist secret services in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, an Italian deputy told Bulgarian bTV television Thursday.
Paolo Gozzanti, head of the parliamentary commission inquiring into the activities of the Soviet KGB in Italy during the Cold War, said the Bulgarian Ambassador in Rome had promised to help him obtain relevant documents that the former Stasi sent to Bulgaria in 2002.
"We agreed to launch an immediate procedure for getting the documents as soon as possible," he said.
Bulgarian government spokesperson Dimitar Tsonev confirmed his country's readiness to cooperate in the investigation "as soon as we have an official demand" from Italy."
However, the Berlin office supervising the Stasi archives said it had no evidence linking the Stasi, or Soviet and Bulgarian secret services to the assassination attempt.
And the former head of the Stasi, Marcus Wolf, said on Bulgarian national television that the documents concerned demands on the part of Bulgaria for the Stasi's help to end a "campaign against Bulgaria by the American CIA."
Wolf added that the files also had been sent to Italy in 1995.