Tuesday, September 09, 2014


SKY PILOT - the Bulgarian Orthodox Priest ordered to spy on Australia's rocket / missile program during the 1960s in the "heat" of the Cold War

SKY PILOT - Reverend Rocket
by Sasha Uzunov

De-classified Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) files from the the mid 1960s reveal that a Bulgarian Orthodox Priest, an intelligence operative for the Bulgarian communist government, was ordered to spy upon Australia's rocket and missile program in at Woomera, in the South Australian desert as well as the local Macedonian community.

Father Kliment Cvetkov Dimitrov, an ethnic Macedonian by birth (from the western Macedonian town of Tetovo), was removed as parish priest from the controversial Bulgarian-Macedonian Orthodox Church in Melbourne, Australia because of personal reasons... and in which his secret role came to the attention of ASIO.


In 1950, a group of Macedonian migrants, largely from Aegean Macedonia, who needed a church to worship in, fell under the sway of a cunning character called Bishop Andrey Velichky, head of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church of America, Canada, and Australia. With his blessing a "Macedono-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church" [referred to by ASIO as the Macedonian (self-independent) Orthodox Church] in Melbourne, Australia, was consecrated.

Bishop Velichky had remained in exile in the United States and was independent of Communist Bulgaria until 1963, when he patched up his difference with the Sofia regime and brought his Churches under direct Bulgarian control.

Photo copyright CORBIS.

In 1960, a Macedonian Orthodox Church, St George, was established in Fitzroy and was in communion with the Macedonian Orthodox Church, headquartered in Skopje, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, then within the Communist Federal Yugoslavia. The Macedonian Orthodox Church declared its independence in 1967 from the Serbian Church, which had confiscated the title to the Macedonian Church (Archbishopric of Ohrid) after it was abolished by the Ottoman Turkish occupation in the late 18th century.

On 8 September 1991, Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia.

The Macedono-Bulgarian Church in Australia then became a platform for Bulgarian intelligence operations during the 1960s and onwards, as there was a minuscule Bulgarian diplomatic presence in Australia at the time.

In 1986 a Victorian Supreme Court decision confirmed Bulgarian "ownership"of the Church in Melbourne. The original founders, the Macedonians, had been duped by Bishop Andrey Velichky back in 1950.

THE ASIO REPORT - dated May 1967 - source: National Archives of Australia.