Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill the Pope, said the Bulgarian secret police, linked to the Soviet secret police, had ordered the assassination attempt.
It was the first time Mr. Agca, who is serving a life sentence in Italy for the 1981 shooting, spoke to reporters about the plot.
Agca said he was trained by the Soviet KGB in Bulgaria and Syria. He also directly implicated three Bulgarians - Sergei Antonov, Teodorov Aivazov, and Juelio Vassiliev Kolev. Mr. Antonov, a Bulgarian airline employee in Rome, was arrested last year on suspicion of complicity in the plot. Mr. Aivazov and Mr. Kolev, both Bulgarian Embassy officials, left Italy before police could question them.
Agca was brought to Rome for questioning about the disappearance of a teen-age girl who may have been kidnapped to obtain his release. He denied involvement in that case.
The Soviet Union and Bulgaria vehemently denied Agca's charges. The official Soviet news agency Tass said there was already incontrovertible evidence that no communist states were involved in the plot. Meanwhile, Italian Justice Minister Clelio Darida ordered an inquiry to determine how Agca came to have access to reporters to make his statements.