How I proved overdose of Mercury in Dimitrov’s brain
How I proved overdose of Mercury in Dimitrov’s brain
In 50 percents of the cases one investigation leads to another one. Exactly this was the case, which proved that there was overdose Mercury in the brain and hair of the Bulgarian Communist leader George Dimitrov.I had to go to Sofia History Museum researching how the car of ex Bulgarian King Boris III was stolen from Bulgaria and went as far as Las Vegas, Nevada as one of the most unique exponent of a private car collection.
The directress of the Museum answered all my questions. At the end of the conversation she surprised me with one sentence – “There has not been any mummy of George Dimitrov in the mausoleum in the center of Sofia. We have bowed to piece of wood covered with stretched scanty remains of skin”, she added.
I was struck dumb. I could not believe. I decided that was a wonderful ground for a new investigation. As early as the following day I rushed after the truth. And the truth could be found in only one place – I had to find eyewitnesses that had worked in the Mausoleum in order to tell if there had been a mummy.
At the very following day I found one of the men who had been charged to look after the Mausoleum and Dimitrov’s body – associate professor Peter Galabov from the Institute for experimental morphology and anthropology of the Bulgarian Science Academy. For 14 years the 52 years old man had taken care of Dimitrov’s body. He succeeded to his father’s craft the popular anatomist Prof. George Galabov who had taken care of the mummy before him and from the very beginning when it was put in the Mausoleum in 1949.
As far as he realized what I was looking him for Galabov cut me off “This is bullshit. I can swear that there was a body with muscles, bones and skin”. He told me details how he and his team were looking after the body. But after the collapse of the communism in 1989 it was decided that the Dimitrov’s body to be buried by the traditional way. That happened on 18th of July 1990. Before this Galabov succeed to take only one lock from the mummy and the communist’s leader brain that was being kept in a case in the lab under the mausoleum. When I asked him what he needed them for Galabov firmly answered me: “Because I have suspicions that Dimitrov has been poisoned”.
His suspicions were awakened by several facts. In the Russian magazine “Ogonek” he had come upon a photo of Dimitrov and his son Boiko taken in the sanatorium Boroviha in USSR a month and half or two before his death. He looked in perfect health. Then in a short period of time he had become unrecognizable.
Later on Dimitrov’s wife had shared her doubts of how strange the last departure of Dimitrov for Moscow was. Berea landed in a plane from USSR in April 1949 at the airport of Sofia. He informed Dimitrov that Stalin summoned him urgently. Dimitrov asked for a little time in order to take his personal belongings. Berea flatly refused “You will find everything you need in Moscow comrade Dimitrov”.
“What had necessitated such an urgent departure?” Galabov asked. According to him Dimitrov did not approve many of the aspects of Stalin’s policy that raised suspicions that there was any mystery in the communist’s leader death and he decided before the final burial of the body to cut a clock off the mummy of the “chief”.
From my first teachers in investigating journalism I know that the journalist had to be always on the alert. One never knows in which particular moment a new sensation or a ground for investigating was going to come or who will bring it. As investigating the disappeared car of King Boris III quite unexpectedly the subject: “Has George Dimitrov’s mummy existed or has not?” appeared so then before me was a new challenge: “Was Dimitrov poisoned or not ?”
After 20 years experience in that profession I do not relish to drop the bomb of the sensation and then after to forget about it. “The quality journalistic is to exhaust all possible sources and means and to find the final truth”, taught me one of my teachers in the profession, one of the best investigating journalists in Bulgaria George Tambuev. He was not satisfied only to pose the problem but rushed to find the answer.In that case – it was not enough to publish the interview with Galabov’s doubts. The final well-grounded, true answer obviously would come through a careful study of the brain and the hair.
There for I decided – I will publish the interview but after that I will implement and undertake the organization of a research – was Dimitrov poisoned or not – trough real expertise of his remained brain and hair.
I asked Galabov how that could be achieved. “We do not have such an equipment in our institute”, Galabov explained “but I am ready to provide the necessary material to the Institute of criminology where they have the necessary apparatuses which can detect the slightest quantity of poison”. They had also their very sophisticated systems for DNA-analysis.
That’s exactly what I did. I convinced my Editor – in –Chief Venelina Gocheva that it was worthy our newspaper “24 hours daily” to organize the study and once and for all to provide a final answer to the question - whether or not Dimitrov was poisoned. She gave me a green light. The rest was easy – I undertook with organizing the expertise.
I sent a letter to than Minister of the internal affairs Bogomil Bonev asking for a written permission expertise to be implemented in the Institute of criminology associated with the Inner Ministry. Very soon I received his positive answer. I called to 2 scientists from the Institute and ask them to come with me to take some materials for the experiment.
Few weeks later associate Galabov delivered in front of my eyes 0,79 grams of Dimitrov’s hairs for the study. “We are going to study the hair for heavy metals”, announced then the experts senior research associate Ioncho Ionchev from sector “Biology and toxicological-chemistry of the morphology” and research associate Marko Lalchev from sector “Physics- chemistry” of the Institute of criminology. They told that they would use not only Institute’s Laboratory but also another one, which has more perfect equipment.
The samples were analyzed in 2 institutes in 2 different methods. Atom- absorbing analysis was used in the Central veterinary-medical laboratory in Sofia. The test showed several times higher level of mercury bordering the verge quantity that could arise doubts of poisoning.
Atomic emission spectral analysis with inductive connected plasma was used in the Central laboratory for control of pesticides, nitrates, heavy metals and fertilizers in Sofia. And that test also showed higher level of mercury. “We have never had such high indicators”, said the expert Lalchev. “If the mercury was within the normal quantity rates we would have stopped here. From now on we will have to find out where such quantity of mercury might have come from”, Ionov added.
Soon after first 2 experiments a sample of the hair was carried to third laboratory – the Institute of general and inorganic chemistry in the Bulgarian Science Academy. In order to be absolutely sure the experts again checked the apparatuses in the other two labs they made new tests. The results were equal.
I asked for this triple check since I did not want to speculate and to mislead the readers. For this reason few months later the experts decided to study also Dimitrov’s brains for the level of concentration of heavy metals.
I organized the same I had organized before. Called the experts from the Institute of Criminology and a leading pathologic anatomist in Bulgaria and ask them to come to Galabov’s Laboratory to take some examples of the Dimitrov’s brain. The two expertises in 2 different labs were also financed and implemented by the order of “24 hours daily”.
The scientists among which one of the best forensic medical men in Bulgaria Prof. Stoicho Radanov took several pieces from Dimitrov’s brains as samples. The 6 pieces and 50 grams of the solution in which the brains had had been preserved for 50 years were put in 8 glass vessels. The experts made the analysis in the Central Chemistry laboratory of Chief direction “Customs” and in the Institute of general and inorganic chemistry of the Bulgarian Science Academy. They proved an overdose Mercury in Dimitrov’s brain also.
“The high levels are not always a certain proof indicating poisoning”, said Prof. Radanov. It was possible that he mercury might have accumulated in the organism as a result of a treatment because in the past they had often used for curing injections “Novorit” that contained mercury. But he did not exclude the possibility of poisoning and reminded that some time ago scientists had made in London a study of the hairs of Napoleon in 2 separated reactors with neutron irradiation and the two tests had shown higher levels of concentration of arsenic. “I order to have base for comparison we will take control samples from 2 bodies of people died in car accidence’, the professor promised.
Several months later the results were ready. They exceeded even the most realistic expectations – in Dimitrov’s brains was found a quantity of mercury many times over the normal doze for the normal metabolism processes in the human organism – 2,33 mg./kg.
It is needless to say that in all stages of the investigation 24 Hours Daily regularly published detailed reports. We wanted to give the facts as they were.
But then happened something that astonished me – the scientists despite the categorical facts divided in two. Despite the numerical indices Prof. Stoicho Radanov said that he was not able to give a conclusive answer to the question “Has Dimitrov been poisoned?” Somewhere in between was the luminary in the toxicology in Bulgaria – Prof. Alexander Monov. In return another forensic medical man – Prof. George Tsekov who had a doctorate in the field of forensic-medical toxicology was categorical: “No doubts – Dimitrov has been poisoned!” The same was the conclusion of the two scientists from the Institute of Criminology who took the first samples from the Dimitrov’s hair, and after that – from his body.
Several months earlier an anonymous colonel from the State security held the same theory when he read the interview of Peter Galabov. The gentleman called me in the editor’s office to endorse the associate Peter Galabov’s suspicions for poisoning expressed in the interview. When I asked him to meet him and to provide us with any further details he cut me off. About the suspicions related to Dimitrov’s deaths he learned from his chief but a week later he was instructed to forget about it, there for he was afraid. “It was not normal to investigate the Russians by that time”, the colonel said. Despite that he shared that he was at old age and did not want one day the truth to weigh on his conscience.
One day he was summoned in the chief’s cabinet and was told that through an operative line information had been collected of a mystery about George Dimitrov’s death. He was ordered to undertake the case. “I was struck dumb. I only dared to ask him where I was supposed to look for the truth.” He kept silence for long. I made bold and broke it: “Germany?” He thought for a while and pretty quietly said: “No, Moscow.” His intonation was such as if I should have guessed on my own. But for me it was as a bolt from the blue”, the colonel told me.
He had kept a secret up to now because he had signed a declaration that he would not bring information and data that had become to his knowledge during and because of his service, to the public knowledge. Despite that fact he had decided to call “24 hours daily” because he was already 78 years old and his chief was already a deceased and someone might start speculating with the truth. His chief had told him that he had doubts Dimitrov had been affected with mercury in the sanitarium near Moscow. There Dimitrov had been given a cabinet and a bureau of made of solid wood. In one of the drawers a double bottom with mercury had been installed guessed the colonel. Because Dimitrov suffered asthma the inhaling of the mercury fumes might have been enough to kill a healthy man let alone ill. But he doubted that any traces of such an operation might have remained.
As I told this anonymous source called me after the publication of Galabov’s interview. This gave me hopes that the way I had chosen to look for the truth – trough analyses and expertise – was the right one.
The biggest problem in this investigation was that 24 Hours Daily did not have enough money to finish the research trough let say independent for instance Western experts. Despite having at their disposal more sophisticated science methods they have one other advantage – they are not tempted by the prejudices of the ideology and the times and would count only on data received from the analyses.
Later on I was told that colleagues from a Russian TV made a documentary and posed the question about the suspicious Dimitrov’s death. So I still keep the issue as the apple of my eye.