Brezhnev hatched plot to kill Pope

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EVER since Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman, shot the late Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981 in St Peter’s Square in Rome, investigators have tried to solve one of the 20th century’s 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 parliament’s 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 commission’s president, said last week that it had come to a “categorical conclusion”.

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