Skip to comments.Brezhnev hatched plot to kill Pope
Posted on 03/12/2006 12:35:35 PM PST by wagglebee
EVER since Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman, shot the late Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981 in St Peters Square in Rome, investigators have tried to solve one of the 20th centurys greatest mysteries: did Agca act alone or was he obeying communist orders? This week an Italian parliamentary commission will officially conclude that Agca was part of a huge conspiracy masterminded by the GRU, the Soviet military secret service, on the orders of the politburo and Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist party.
The findings are already being considered by a Rome prosecutor who may relaunch his long-stalled investigation into the assassination attempt.
The report of the Rome parliaments Mitrokhin commission deals with both the run-up to the shooting and its aftermath. It was originally set up to study the Soviet penetration of Italy which was revealed in documents spirited out of Moscow by Vasili Mitrokhin, a former KGB archivist who defected in 1992.
The commission decided to focus on the attack after John Paul wrote in his book Memory and Identity: Conversations between Millenniums: Someone else planned it, someone else commissioned it. For the first time he indirectly blamed the Soviet Union, referring to it as the last dictatorship of the century.
Paolo Guzzanti, the commissions president, said last week that it had come to a categorical conclusion. For this the commission, which studied the files of Italian judicial inquiries and questioned investigating magistrates, has relied in part on disclosures made by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, a French anti-terrorist specialist.
Bruguière showed us the evidence, based on several testimonies and documents, that the GRU received the order to murder the Pope directly from the politburo and probably from Brezhnev himself. This was not less than two months before the shooting, said Guzzanti, a senator from the centre-right.
We had thought it was the KGB, but Bruguière was very precise. He found that the GRU wanted to compromise its rival. And so with one blow the GRU would eliminate the Pope and discredit the KGB because everyone would think the KGB did it, he said.
Bruguières sources, Guzzanti said, included Abu Nidal, the late Palestinian terrorist. They may also have included Carlos the Jackal, the jailed Venezuelan terrorist whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. Bruguière has been investigating him for 20 years. We know Carlos the Jackal trained in the same places as Agca, in Syria and Sudan, Guzzanti said.
Bruguière told the commission that he would testify fully in Rome about his conclusions but only after he had completed his work on Carlos.
Of the Soviet motive for trying to assassinate the spiritual leader of 1 billion Catholics worldwide, the report says: The remote and direct cause of the shooting is military. Only this justifies the enormity of the efforts and the risk involved in eliminating the Polish Pope who kept Poland in a state of permanent revolution.
According to Guzzanti, the key evidence of a link between Agca and Soviet intelligence was a photograph taken at the time of the shooting. It shows both Agca and, not far from him, a man wearing a moustache and large spectacles.
This photograph is the smoking gun. We have carried out two analyses of the picture and computer technology proves that the man with a moustache is Sergei Antonov, a Bulgarian. And Bulgarian agents carried out the shooting on Soviet orders, Guzzanti said.
Antonov, then head of the Balkan Air office in Rome, was originally implicated by Agca, who identified him from photographs. Agca painted an accurate portrait of Antonov: he collected miniature liqueur bottles, loved flowers and pop music and smoked Havana cigars. Antonov denied knowing Agca.
On June 23, 1983, says the report, Agca was threatened at Romes Rebibbia jail by two Bulgarian spies posing as magistrates. Agca radically changed his attitude, pretending to become crazy and making the trial collapse by announcing he was Jesus Christ, the report says. Antonov was eventually cleared of involvement in 1986.
Agca was convicted of attempted murder and was imprisoned in Italy until 2000. He is now being held in Turkey.
The commission also studied files from the Stasi, the former East German secret police. Guzzanti believes they show that the Stasi launched a propaganda campaign to whitewash the Soviet bloc in general and the Bulgarians in particular so quickly after the shooting that they must have had advance warning.
Three Italian magistrates who investigated the attack Ilario Martella, Rosario Priore and Ferdinando Imposimato now believe the Soviet Union was implicated but this has never been proved in court. The furthest the Italian judiciary got was to conclude that Agca was part of a conspiracy.
Imposimato, who was questioned by the commission, gave its findings a mixed reception: Im a bit perplexed by the GRU theory. I dont buy the idea that the GRU was trying to make the KGB look bad. Thats ridiculous because they both answer to the politburo.
However, he said he had read the expert analyses of the photograph and found them convincing. This confirms that what Agca said before he pretended to become mad is credible, as he testified that Antonov accompanied him to the Via della Conciliazione, the road near St Peters Square, he said.
Imposimatos own research has persuaded him that Carlos the Jackal was probably involved in the preparations.
Carlos was a terrorist at the service of the KGB and the Stasi his refuges were behind the iron curtain. In Sofia he stayed at the same hotel as Agca and in 1980 he was there at the same time. Its possible that Carlos indicated Agca as a skilled gunman, Imposimato said.
Boris Labusov, a spokesman for Russias Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow, branded the reports allegations as completely absurd. Bulgaria also rejected the report.
Guzzanti hopes his commissions findings will prompt renewed judicial interest. The Rome prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo is studying our conclusions, especially the analyses that identify Antonov. We hope all this will serve to reopen the whole case, he said.
Capaldos investigation centres on Ivan Dontchev, a 56-year-old Bulgarian suspected of having helped to organise the assassination attempt and of overseeing Agcas arrival in Italy. The inquiry began in 1997 but stalled because of a lack of co-operation by Bulgarian authorities and an inability to locate Dontchev.
Whatever the effects of the commission report, Antonov is safe. Under Italian law he cannot be tried a second time.
Well the commies killed 110 million people, what is one more...
Putin started working with the Stasi around the same time.
What did Herr Putin know and when did he know it?
I was thinking the same thing; however, my guess is that unless there is undeniable proof that Putin was involved, it would never be made public.
Ronald Reagan was right when he called the Soviet Union an evil empire.
I wonder about this. While he may have been the man at the top at the time; my guess is that the head of the KGB, Andropov, may have been the real guy behind the attempt on the Pope's life.
Maybe if Brezhnev had hatched a plot to have Agca forceably stretch a pair of underpants over the Pontiff's head, the MSM might get interested. As it stands, though...
Now back to our regularly scheduled program. Tonight's feature: story number 950,000 about how America is the cause of most of the problems in the world.
Absolutely. He certainly was.
Putin was very small fry at the time. Those who try to link him to the assassination attempt (other than being part of the same criminal organization) just waste their time.
Ronald Reagan was right. (period)
But you're correct, he was right about the evil empire, as well.
Well it sealed the fate of the soviet union. Just cant recover IN A PR WORLD when you try to kill a pope.
Not ridiculous. The politburo consisted of demented alcoholics who could, at most, make overall suggestions and authorize operations. The implementation had to be worked out inside a particular agency, either GRU or KGB. Naturally, they competed for budget and favors.
Hey, can you get that show over tin foil hat antennas?
Or that the CIA, DEA, FBI, ICE/BP, and local law enforcement are concerned with jurisdictional disputes or who gets credited for what, just so long as the bad guys go down.
"They're all on the same side, with the same goals." /sarc
I don't know about a "wall", but GRU and KGB had separate budgets, and separate staff, you know.
My candidate is Andropov. KGB to the bone, gunning for the PM job (which he got later), and ready to do anything to protect the Soviet Union.
Say, didn't Clancy write a book about this one, where Jack Ryan diverted the assassin enough to make him miss?
So what's the logic? How would the Soviet Union gain if the Pope was dead, they would just elect another Pope???
The USSR had survived for six decades before JPII, and though all of the other popes had condemned communist atheism, no pope had ever stood up to them so boldly. Solidarity was a growing threat in Poland and JPII was loved and seen as the greatest inspiration for the Poles.
In short, the communists were desperate. Any pope would have been better in their minds than JPII. Had the assassination succeeded, they probably wouldn't have let any cardinals from the Soviet Bloc out to attend the conclave.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.