Chemical weapons: what is the danger of American biological laboratories in the CIS One of them was threatened during the riots in Kazakhstan

Painful question

In mid-January, information appeared on social networks that in the midst of the pogroms, terrorists seized and looted the secret biolabs of the United States left unguarded in Alma-Ata, in which deadly viruses and their strains were being studied. Izvestia sources familiar with the situation confirmed that during the riots in Alma-Ata on January 5-6, one of the three American facilities at the National Scientific Center for Particularly Dangerous Infections was attacked. Windows and doors were broken in it. And although the militants could not penetrate there, they could not confirm that nothing was missing from there.

 

Akim of Alma-Ata Bakytzhan Sagintayev told Izvestia that the Masgut Aikimbayev National Scientific Center for Particularly Dangerous Infections is under constant guard, and the news that the laboratory was abandoned without protection does not correspond to reality.

 

— All these reports, rumors are not true. The biological laboratory was guarded, is guarded and will be guarded—" the politician stressed.

Earlier, the Kazakh media reported that in 2016 at the National Center named after Masgut Aikimbayev opened a Central reference laboratory, in which the Pentagon Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) invested about $ 160 million. With American money, the institution was equipped with the most modern equipment. It is certified according to the second and third level of biosafety. This made it possible to investigate particularly dangerous diseases for humans and ways of their spread by local fauna - Congo-Crimean fever, anthrax, brucellosis. In 2017, studies of coronaviruses in bats were conducted there.

The official website of the center states that it is actively involved in international cooperation programs with the Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense, the American Center for Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases, the French Pasteur Institute and other well-known anti-epidemic institutions.

 

Izvestia sent a request to the press service of the US Department of Defense about whether the laboratories in Kazakhstan are really American military facilities and whether Pentagon personnel were present at them during the riots. The official representative of the department said that he could not comment on this topic.

In the United States, there are strict legal restrictions on certain types of biological research and drug testing. In the CIS countries and a number of other states, the laws in this area are softer, which is the reason for the appearance of such facilities outside the United States, Dmitry Abzalov, president of the Center for Strategic Communications, told Izvestia.

 

- Such laboratories should not be abandoned and left unguarded, they require special control— - he noted. - It's dangerous. Especially if there is work going on with strains of smallpox or plague. After the incident, it is best to conduct an objective inventory of materials. From Kazakhstan, the lost materials, if they exist, can easily get to Afghanistan, and no one needs their own biological or chemical program available to terrorists. It would be right to periodically audit such facilities and adopt a UN resolution that would regulate the safety of such facilities.

American family

Earlier, the media reported that over the past eight years, at least 28 projects commissioned by the US Army have been implemented in Kazakhstan. They involved not only local specialists, but also military personnel from the US Navy Medical Center (Maryland), employees of the Institute of Microbiology of the Bundeswehr (Munich) and military laboratories in Porton Down (UK).

 

In addition to the facility that was damaged in the southern capital, the US Military Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) financed the construction of five more biological laboratories in the republic, including at the Center for Particularly Dangerous Infections in Alma-Ata (TSOI) and the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems in the village of Gvardeysky (Research Institute of PBB).

In November last year, information appeared on the website of the Government of Kazakhstan that by the end of 2025 in the south of the republic in the village of Gvardeysky, Korday district, Zhambyl region, another bio-laboratory with the highest, fourth level of biosafety BSL-4, which allows working with the most dangerous and contagious viruses and bacteria against which there is no treatment, will be built. The facility includes an underground storage facility for the collection of dangerous and especially dangerous strains.

 

Local residents, well-known public and political figures, fearing the leakage of deadly viruses, opposed the construction of the laboratory, organized peaceful pickets. But, despite the protests of ordinary citizens, the construction of the laboratory was not postponed.

"Sanitary cordon"

Over the past decade, with the financial and organizational support of the US Department of Defense, at least two dozen biological laboratories have been deployed in the post-Soviet republics. Some of them are staffed by American personnel with diplomatic passports. Due to the lack of transparency of the institutions' activities, they have repeatedly become sources of rumors about dangerous biological experiments being conducted in them. The United States has never commented on the activities of these laboratories in the context of a possible connection with outbreaks of epidemics.

 

- The Americans themselves explain that it is cheaper to build such laboratories in the CIS countries than in the USA— - military expert Vladislav Shurygin told Izvestia. — In America, such high demands are placed on the system of protection of these objects that it eats up huge amounts of money, which make up the bulk of the budget. In addition, the United States built such facilities in the CIS because it was quiet here until recently, except for Ukraine. We do not know what is happening at such facilities, and we can assume that their remoteness from America is an additional guarantee that their country will not suffer in the event of an accident. In such conditions, it is easy to psychologically conduct experiments of any degree of danger. There is one more nuance. Modern biological weapons should affect certain genomes, which means people of a certain nationality. In this case, the location at our borders gives another plus — the proximity of the "material" under study.

There is a network of laboratories on the territory of Uzbekistan, the first of which appeared in Tashkent in 2007. The construction was fully paid for by the Pentagon's DTRA agency. In 2013, two more second-class safety facilities appeared in Andijan and Ferghana, and in 2016, the Khorezm Regional Diagnostic Laboratory in Urgench was put into operation.

In 2010, the United States opened a network of 13 similar laboratories in Ukraine, including the Ukrainian Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute, which investigates smallpox, botulism and anthrax.

 

In 2012, the United States funded the opening of the laboratory of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan for monitoring infectious diseases within the framework of the joint biological participation program. A year later, the construction of the third level of biological safety facility in Baku was completed. He specializes in the study of pathogenic microorganisms in samples of human and animal origin.

 

A Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center has been established in Georgia, 17 km from the Vaziani Airbase near Tbilisi. In 2018, the former Minister of State Security of the country Igor Giorgadze claimed that secret experiments on people could be carried out in this center.

 

Such laboratories appear as part of the US military development of post-Soviet territories, Oleg Zheltonozhko, a specialist in the field of chemical and biological weapons, explained to Izvestia.

- They are officially supported by US grants, - said the specialist. — The program of their research is also formed by the Americans. At one time, Igor Georgadze (former KGB officer of the Georgian SSR and Minister of State Security of Georgia. - Izvestia) presented a whole pile of documents about what developments are being carried out at one of the American facilities on the territory of Georgia. It was about certain medications, but in fact, American means of influencing the body were studied, taking into account the biological characteristics of local residents, Americans, Caucasians and Europeans. It can be assumed that some means are being developed to purposefully influence the local population. But can they be called biological weapons? This term is now blurred, it is still difficult to understand what may eventually appear. It's even harder to catch by the hand. For example, there were suspicions that African swine fever and hemorrhagic fevers spread among animals from the territory of Georgia to the North Caucasus. But it was not possible to localize the source of the infections.

 

In 2020, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the activities of the Lugar Center are of concern, since Washington does not explain what specialists are doing there in the immediate vicinity of the Russian borders, and this activity may violate US obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC). The activities of other similar facilities in post-Soviet states are regularly criticized by the diplomatic department.

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