5. Georgi Markov
One of the most infamous assassinations of the Cold War, Markov was likely assassinated by the Bulgarian secret police. It is believed, however, that the KGB played an important support role. Georgi Markov was born in Bulgaria in 1929. At the time, Bulgaria was a communist state and close ally of the Soviet Union.
For a time, Markov enjoyed a successful career as a brilliant, up-and-coming writer in Bulgaria. His works quickly garnered attention and awards, but they also pushed the boundaries of what communist censors would allow. Many of his plays were banned from being performed because they were considered too controversial. And one of his books was stopped mid-print because it talked about the roof collapse of the Lenin steel mill.
In 1969 Markov decided to head to Italy to visit his brother. Once there, he decided to stay until things cooled down back home. In September of 1971 the Bulgarian government refused to extend his passport, trying to force Markov to return to the country. Instead, he fled to London and began working for the BBC.
Markov took to the airwaves too, working for Radio Free Europe, a staunchly anti-Communist radio station. This drew the ire of the Bulgarian government. On September 7th 1978 Markov was walking across the Waterloo Bridge where it spans over the River Thames. Waiting for a bus, Markov suddenly felt a sharp stabbing pain in his right, back thigh. Turning, Markov saw a man had dropped his umbrella. The man apologized for the accident and they went their separate ways.
After getting to the BBC office, Markov noticed that the pain had not subsided. He also noticed a red welt on his leg and decided to go to the hospital. Four days later, Markov died of ricin poisoning, something that was discovered only after investigators ordered an autopsy.
Ricin, by the way, is the infamous and essentially incurable poison featured in the popular “Breaking Bad” TV series.