Russian Investigators Probe Biological Weapons Link to Hepatitis Outbreak

June 9, 2005
Moscow News

An investigation is checking whether the mass outbreak of hepatitis A in the Tver region near Moscow could be linked to the biological weapons sector. At the moment 363 people are in hospital, NewsRu.Com reported Thursday. Some newspapers have linked the outbreak to the recent murder of Russia’s leading specialist in bio weapons.

The outbreak began at the end of May in the Tver region and has now reached the neighboring region of Smolensk, agencies report. It was initially blamed on the local drinks industry, whose products revealed some colon bacillus.

The investigation is still considering several versions, among them biological weapons.

Some sources link Wednesday’s murder of Anti-Microbe Therapy Institute director Leonid Strachunsky, who specialized in creating microbes resistant to biological weapons, to the hepatitis outbreak, NewsRu.Com added.

Strachunsky was found dead in his hotel room in Moscow, where he came from Smolensk en route to the United States. He had been hit on the head with a champagne bottle, and some of his possessions were missing.

In spite of the seeming simplicity of the crime, the investigators are looking for a connection between the murder of the leading bio weapons researcher and the hepatitis outbreak in Tver, the Moskovsky Komsomolets paper reports.

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