"Red Death": History of Russian Secret Weapons

Soviet biotechnology stimulated development of Western science

Sept. 24, 2004

Regardless of the commonly perceived notion concerning the underdeveloped state of Soviet genetics, molecular-genetic researches have been developing quite rapidly and with great deal of success during the last decade of the Soviet empire. Nowadays, all leading Russian experts in the area of molecular biology are working abroad.

When the SARS (Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus mystically emerged in China and began its way worldwide, it lead some scientists to believe they were dealing with a biological weapon of some sort. According to their presumptions, the virus has been developed and afterwards illegally acquired in China on the local black market.

In connection with recent events evolving around biological threats, the West cannot help but think of a man who had once created an entire array of most hazardous samples of biological weapons. Not one of today"s masterminds of Soviet era come close to a 52-year-old Socviet scientist Vladimir Pasechkin. He used to be considered the world"s leading expert in biological wars.

In October of 1989 Pasechnik decided to stay in England; after he escaped the USSR, he"s been discussing his work with deadly viruses and bacteria in numerous interviews with British special services for two years in a row. His stories have deeply shocked British intelligence analysts. They mainly concerned strategic missiles aimed at American towns and filled with genetically modified viruses of horrible diseases.

From 1974 to 1981 Pasechnik has built a special laboratory with 400 staff members. He"s come up with t a tremendous budget; the finances enabled him to provide the best access to all up-to-date developments in the sphere of biotechnologies in the West. The lab began its official work in 1981. Two years later, Pasechnik has learned the truth: he found himself in the center of the entire chain of factories and laboratories that were developing new bio weapons. "Officially, we were developing some new vaccines.," later recalled Pasechnik. "In reality however, we were working on creating new technologies within the framework of a gigantic program of biological war."

At first, Pasechnik had a rather vague idea of the scale of the entire operation. It was not until later that he"s learned about two other labs (similar to his) that had been built in Moscow, another two in the Moscow suburbs and one more in Novosibirsk. Apparently, each and every single one of them had been working on the same project. Five more industrial facilities with 15 000 staff employees had been operating in other ends of the country. The company called "Bio substance" had a budget of 200 million rubles as well as $10 million USD.

This was one of the greatest secrets of the Cold war. The company"s main job was to come up with new cultures of microbes, more powerful than any existing types and manufacturing them in spray cans.

Pasechnik's lab was preoccupied with an interesting work: they attempted to find new ways of filling shells, bombs and missiles with microbes and ensuring their spread across vast territories once they hit the targeted area.

Soviet Ministry of Defense was fully aware of the effectiveness of biological weapons. Known as special-purpose weapon, it was meant to be used not only as the final measure after nuclear explosion, but also during a non-nuclear conflict to attack reserve troops. Each part of the program violated the 1972 Convention signed by the Soviet Union which banned the use of biological and chemical weapons. Who knows what would've happened, if Gorbachev had not come to power.

Gorbachev"s epoch enables Pasechnik to change the direction of his research work at the lab. As a true scientist, Pasechnik could not stop worrying about the results he was getting.

Naéve Soviet Scientist could not even conceive the idea that his work had somehow violated International agreement of 1972. He did however feel that the weapon he was working on was in fact a disgrace to his scientific professionalism. In addition, he could not have possibly been totally unaware of the fact that his genetically-modified weapon was a crime against humanity.

So, after a number of turbulent years, Pasechnik has finally settled in England. He works for a British company, loves his job. Around this time however world"s leading microbiologists start dying under rather strange circumstances. Eleven scientists have mystically died in the course of half a year. All of them were somehow related to the development of bacteriological weapons. The first three scientists died in 2001. Several days afterwards, Vladimir Pasechnik dies suddenly in Salsbury. His body was found not far from his house. According to a later report, he died of a heart attack. More deaths occurred afterwards.

It appears that profession of a microbiologist could become one of the most dangerous ones. 


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