Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services
Field of research
|Poisons capable of killing humans|
The poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services, alternatively known as Laboratory 1, Laboratory 12, and Kamera (which means "The Cell" in Russian), was a covert research-and-development facility of the Soviet secret police agencies. The laboratory manufactured and tested poisons; it reportedly reactivated in the late 1990s.
The laboratory activities were mentioned in the Mitrokhin archive.
- 1921: First poison laboratory within the Soviet secret services was established under the name "Special Office". It was headed by professor of medicine Ignatii Kazakov, according to Pavel Sudoplatov.
- 1926: The laboratory was under the supervision of Genrikh Yagoda, a deputy of OGPU chairman Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, who became NKVD chief in 1934 after Menzhinsky's death.
- February 20, 1939: It becomes Laboratory 1 headed by Grigory Mairanovsky. The laboratory was under the direct supervision of NKVD director Lavrenty Beria and his deputy Vsevolod Merkulov from 1939 to March 1953. Victims included the American Isaiah Oggins.
- March 14, 1953: It was renamed to Laboratory 12. V. Naumov became the newly appointed head. Lavrenty Beria and Vsevolod Merkulov were executed after Stalin's death. Immediate NKVD supervisor of the laboratory, Pavel Sudoplatov, received a long term in prison.
- 1978: Expanded into the Central Investigation Institute for Special Technology within the First Chief Directorate of the KGB.
- Since 1991: Several laboratories of the SVR (headquartered in Yasenevo near Moscow) were responsible for the "creation of biological and toxin weapons for clandestine operations in the West".
Mairanovsky and his colleagues tested a number of deadly poisons on prisoners from the Gulags, including mustard gas, ricin, digitoxin, curare, cyanide, and many others. The goal of the experiments was to find a tasteless, odourless chemical that could not be detected post-mortem. Candidate poisons were given to the victims, with a meal or drink, as "medication".
Finally, a preparation with the desired properties called C-2 or K-2 (carbylamine choline chloride) was developed. According to witness testimonies, the victim changed physically, became shorter, weakened quickly, became calm and silent, and died within fifteen minutes. Mairanovsky brought to the laboratory people of varied physical condition and ages in order to have a more complete picture about the action of each poison.
Pavel Sudoplatov and Nahum Eitingon approved special equipment (i.e., poisons) only if it had been tested on "humans", according to testimony of Mikhail Filimonov. Vsevolod Merkulov said that these experiments were approved by NKVD chief Lavrenty Beria. After Stalin's death and his arrest, Beria testified on August 28, 1953, that "I gave orders to Mairanovsky to conduct experiments on people sentenced to the highest measure of punishment, but it was not my idea".
In addition to human experimentation, Mairanovsky personally executed people with poisons, under the supervision of Sudoplatov.
- 1930: The leader of the Russian All-Military Union, general Alexander Kutepov, was drugged and kidnapped in Paris and died from a heart attack due to an overdose of the administered drug.
- 1936: Nestor Lakoba, Abkhaz Communist leader
- 1937: One of the leaders of the White movement and head of the Russian All-Military Union, Russian general Evgenii Miller, was drugged and kidnapped in Paris and later executed in Russia.
- 1938: Abram Slutsky (17 February 1938)
- 1940: Nikolai Koltsov, famous Russian biologist
- 1947: Cy Oggins was taken to Laboratory Number One (the "Kamera"), where Grigory Mairanovsky injected him with curare, which takes 10 to 15 minutes to kill
- 1947: Archbishop Theodore Romzha of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was killed by injection of curare provided by Mairanovsky and administered by a medical nurse who was a Ministry for State Security agent.
- 1971: Nobel prize laureate and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn was poisoned with what was later determined to be ricin. Solzhenitsyn survived the attempt.
- 1978: Dissident Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov was assassinated in London using a tiny pellet from an umbrella gun poisoned with ricin; the necessary equipment was prepared in this laboratory. In a Discovery Channel television program about his illustrated book of espionage equipment called The Ultimate Spy, espionage historian H. Keith Melton indicates that once the Bulgarian secret service had decided to kill Markov, KGB specialists from the Laboratory gave the Bulgarians a choice between two KGB tools that could be provided for the task: either a poisonous topical gelatin to be smeared on Markov, or an instrument to administer a poison pellet, as was eventually done.
- 1979: Attempted poisoning of the second President of Afghanistan Hafizullah Amin on December 13, 1979. Department 8 of KGB succeeded in infiltrating the illegal agent Mitalin Talybov (codenamed SABIR) as a chef of Amin's presidential palace. However, Amin switched his food and drink as if he expected to be poisoned, so his son-in-law became seriously ill and, ironically, was flown to a hospital in Moscow.
- Russian writer Maxim Gorky and his son Max Peshkov. During the Trial of the Twenty-One in 1938, NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda admitted that he poisoned Gorky and his son and unsuccessfully tried to poison his own deputy (and eventual successor) Nikolai Yezhov. The attempted poisoning of Yezhov was later officially dismissed as falsification, but Vyacheslav Molotov believed that the poisoning accusations were true. Yagoda was never officially rehabilitated (recognized as an innocent victim of political repressions) by Soviet authorities.
- Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Russian historians Anton Antonov-Ovseenko and Edvard Radzinsky believe that Stalin was poisoned by associates of NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria, based on the interviews of a former Stalin bodyguard and numerous circumstantial evidence. Stalin planned to dismiss and execute Molotov and other senior members of the Soviet regime in 1953. According to Radzinsky, Stalin died from rat poison warfarin on March 5 1953 by Ivan Khrustalev, a senior bodyguard briefly mentioned in the memoirs of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter. Stalin died at 21:50, exactly 13 years later to the minute of signing Katyn Massacre execution orders.
- Georgi Dimitrov, the first Communist leader of Bulgaria, fell ill in 1949 and was sent to a Moscow hospital. His body was mummified and placed in a mausoleum. Stalin had no reason to have Dimitrov killed, because Dimitrov was his most loyal servant. However, Dimitrov had an idea of joining Bulgaria with Tito's Yugoslav Federation, which was not in the plans of Stalin.
- Nikolai Khokhlov, a KGB defector who survived a thallium poisoning attempt in Frankfurt in 1957.
- Alleged FSB victims
- Lechi Ismailov, a Chechen rebel commander sentenced in Russia for nine years in prison died in September 2002 after an unsuccessful attempt to recruit him as an informer by FSB. Shortly after being transferred from the Lefortovo prison to a regular prison, he had a "farewell" cup of tea with the FSB officer after which fell fatally ill, lost his hair and died shortly after.
- Roman Tsepov, a Russian businessman close to Vladimir Putin and Tambov Gang circles.
- Amir Khattab, who was poisoned by a "a fast-acting nerve agent, possibly sarin or a derivative" transferred on a letter delivered by an FSB-recruited courier.
- Yuri Shchekochikhin, a Russian journalist for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Shchekochikhin investigated apartment bombings allegedly directed by the Russian secret services and the Three Whales Corruption Scandal which involved high-ranking FSB. Shchekochikhin died from a fast and mysterious disease shortly before his departure to the US to testify before a FBI investigators. His medical documentation was classified as "state secret" by Russian authorities.
- Journalist Anna Politkovskaya. During the Beslan school hostage crisis in September 2004 and while on her way to Beslan to help in negotiations with the hostage-takers, Politkovskaya fell violently ill and lost consciousness after drinking tea given to her by an Aeroflot flight attendant. She survived. The drug was allegedly prepared in the FSB poison facility. Politkovskaya was later shot to death in her Moscow apartment building in 2006.
- Former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. He was poisoned in a sushi bar in London in 2006. Traces of polonium-210 were found in his body. In a farewell letter, Litvinenko accused President Vladimir Putin of being behind the attack on his life. Litvinenko was critical of the Putin regime and accused the FSB of being behind the 1999 attacks in Russia. He died on 23 November 2006.
- Viktor Kalashnikov, a freelance journalist and former KGB colonel, and his wife Marina Kalashnikova. In December 2010, the Charité hospital in Berlin discovered that they had been poisoned with mercury. Viktor Kalashnikov claimed it was the work of the FSB.
- Karinna Moskalenko, a human rights lawyer who defended Litvinenko and other anti-Putin dissidents in court. She fell ill from mercury poisoning in October 2008, just prior to a hearing regarding the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya. Although initially alleged to be an attempt on her life, it was found by French police to be the result of a barometer broken in the car by the previous owner.
- Viktor Yushchenko, the third President of Ukraine. Yuschenko was found to have been poisoned with TCDD dioxin during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election campaign. In 2009, he accused Russia of shielding a number of witnesses to his poisoning, and called on the Russian government to turn them over.
- Pyotr Verzilov, spokesman for the protest band Pussy Riot. Verzilov was admitted to a hospital in Moscow in September 2018, before being transferred to the Charité in Berlin. The German doctors believed it was "highly probable" that Verzilov was poisoned.
- Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza, opposition politician. Kara-Murza suddenly fell ill during a meeting in Moscow in May 2015, and was in a coma for more than a month. Coming on the heels of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, his family suspected he had been poisoned. Kara-Murza was hospitalized again for an alleged poisoning in February 2017.
- Emilian Gebrev, Bulgarian arms dealer.
- Sergei Skripal, double agent.
- Alexei Navalny, anti-corruption crusader
- FSB era
- The first democratically elected President of the Republic of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. According to former Deputy Director of Biopreparat Ken Alibek, this laboratory was possibly involved in the design of an undetectable chemical or biological agent to assassinate Gamsakhurdia. BBC News reported that some Gamsakhurdia friends believed he committed suicide, "although his widow insists that he was murdered."
The New York Times reported that Garry Kasparov, the chess champion and Putin opponent, drinks bottled water and eats prepared meals carried by his bodyguards.
Notes and references
- ^ KGB Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko, RFE/RL, interview with Boris Volodarsky (Russian) - English version
- ^ Shoham, D.; Wolfson, Z. (October–December 2004). "The Russian Biological Weapons Program: Vanished or Disappeared?". Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 30 (4): 241–261. doi:10.1080/10408410490468812. PMID 15646399. S2CID 30487628.
- ^ a b c d Harding, Luke (March 6, 2016). Alexander Litvinenko and the most radioactive towel in history. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
Kramer, Andrew E. (August 20, 2016). "More of Kremlin's Opponents Are Ending Up Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5.
- ^ Alexander Kouzminov Biological Espionage: Special Operations of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Intelligence Services in the West, Greenhill Books, 2006, ISBN 1-85367-646-2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 25, 2005. Retrieved December 5, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
- ^ Andrew Meier. 2008. The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin's Secret Service, W. W. Norton.
- ^ Kristen Laurence, The Murder Stories
- ^ Boris Volodarsky, The KGB's Poison Factory, page 34.
- ^ History of Soviet poisonings (Russian) by Boris Sokolov grani.ru
Meier, Andrew (August 11, 2008). The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin's Secret Service. W. W. Norton. pp. 273–288. ISBN 978-0-393-06097-3.
- ^ Vaksberg, Arkadiĭ (2011). Toxic Politics: The Secret History of the Kremlin's Poison Laboratory--from the Special Cabinet to the Death of Litvinenko. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-313-38746-3.
- ^ Pearce, Joseph (2011). Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile (Rev. and updated ed.). San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-58617-496-5.
- ^ a b Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000), ISBN 0-14-028487-7
- ^ Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, Basic Books (2005) hardcover, 677 pages ISBN 0-465-00311-7
- ^ Edvard Radzinsky Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives (1997) ISBN 0-385-47954-9
- ^ Svetlana Alliluyeva Twenty Letters To A Friend (autobiography, published 1967, London, written 1963) ISBN 0-06-010099-0
- ^ Harding, Luke (2016). A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko and Russia's War with the West. Guardian Faber Publishing. ISBN 978-1783350933.
- ^ Ian R Kenyon (June 2002). "The chemical weapons convention and OPCW: the challenges of the 21st century" (PDF). The CBW Conventions Bulletin. Harvard Sussex Program on CBW Armament and Arms Limitation (56): 47.
- ^ "Russian journalist reportedly poisoned en route to hostage negotiations". IFEX. September 3, 2004. Archived from the original on January 29, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2006.
- ^ Sixsmith, Martin (November 20, 2006). "Different name, same tactics: How the FSB inherited the KGB's legacy". The Guardian.
- ^ a b c d "Toxic tea: Multiple Russian opponents of Vladimir Putin have been struck by poison". Chicago Tribune. August 20, 2020.
- ^ Allen, Nick (December 27, 2010). "German inquiry into 'poisoning' of Russian dissidents". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- ^ "Mercury in lawyer's car not suspicious, French police say". International Herald Tribune. October 23, 2008. Archived from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved October 24, 2008.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) at Webcite
- ^ "Yushchenko to Russia: Hand over witnesses". Kyiv Post. October 28, 2009. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
- ^ Smee, Jess; Harding, Luke (September 18, 2018). "'Highly probable' Pussy Riot activist was poisoned, say German doctors". The Guardian.
- ^ "Russian activist's sudden illness fuels poisoning suspicion", BBC News, Moscow, 4 June 2015.
- ^ "RFE/RL Exclusive: FBI Silent on Lab Results in Kremlin Foe's Suspected Poisoning".
- ^ "'I almost died': arms dealer whose poisoning may be linked to Skripals'", The Guardian, 18 Feb 2019
- ^ a b Ken Alibek and S. Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World - Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran it. 1999. Delta (2000) ISBN 0-385-33496-6
- ^ Reburial for Georgia ex-president. The BBC News. Retrieved on April 1, 2007.
- ^ Kramer, Andrew E (August 20, 2016). "More of Kremlin's Opponents Are Ending Up Dead". New York Times.
- PETLIURA, KONOVALETS, BANDERA - Three Leaders of Ukrainian Liberation Movement murdered by the Order of Moscow. Ukrainian Publishers Limited. 237, Liverpool Road, London, United Kingdom. 1962. (audiobook).
- Ken Alibek and S. Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World - Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran it. 1999. Delta (2000) ISBN 0-385-33496-6 
- Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5.
- Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, Basic Books (2005) hardcover, 677 pages ISBN 0-465-00311-7
- The Laboratory 12 poison plot, by Martin Sixsmith, The Sunday Times, April 8, 2007
- The KGB's Poison Factory, by Boris Volodarsky, Wall Street Journal, 7 April 2005
- History of Soviet poisonings (Russian) by Boris Sokolov grani.ru
- Organic poison (Russian) by Vladimir Abarinov, grani.ru
- Boris Volodarsky, The KGB’s Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko (London: Frontline Books, 2009) ISBN 1-84832-542-8