Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services - KGB (Soviet Union), the Committee for State Security, Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti. - Dagger and Cloak

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services - KGB (Soviet Union), the Committee for State Security, Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.

Poison laboratory of the Soviet secret services, also known as Laboratory 1, Laboratory 12 and "The Chamber", was a covert poison research and development facility of the Soviet secret police agencies.


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 of 1953.

December 21, 1951: Grigory Mairanovsky arrested in connection with Viktor Abakumov's arrest, which was presumably a part of Stalin's campaign to remove NKVD chief, Lavrenty Beria.

March 14, 1953: It was renamed to Laboratory 12. V. Naumov is the newly appointed head. Lavrenty Beria and Vsevolod Merkulov were executed after Stalin's death. Immediate NKVD supervisor of the laboratory, Pavel Sudoplatov received long prison sentences.

1978: Expanded into the Central Investigation Institute for Special Technology within the First Chief Directorate of the KGB

Present time. Several laboratories of SVR (headquartered in Yasenevo, near Moscow) are currently responsible for "creation of biological and toxin weapons for clandestine operations in the West".

Human experimentation

Mairanovsky and his collegues tested a number of deadly poisons on prisoners from the Gulag ("enemies of the people"), including mustard gas, ricin, digitoxin 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 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.

"Sudoplatov and Eitingon approved special equipment [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 chef Lavrenty Beria.. Beria himself testified on August 28, 1953, after his arrest 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 Pavel Sudoplatov.

Prominent victims

  • The leader of the Russian All-Military Union general Alexander Kutepov was drugged and kidnapped in Paris in 1930. He died from a heart attack due to an overdose of the administered drug.
  • One of leaders of the White movement, Russian general Evgenii Miller, was drugged and kidnapped in Paris in 1937. He was executed later in Russia.
  • Abram Slutsky, head the Soviet foreign intelligence service (GUGB) was poisoned with hydrocyanic acid added in tea in 1938.
  • Archbishop Theodore Romzha of Ukrainian Catholic Church was killed in 1947 by injection of curare provided by Mairanovsky and administered by a medical nurse who was an MGB agent.
  • Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov was assassinated in London using ricin prepared in this laboratory in 1978.
  • 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.

Alleged victims

  • Russian writer Maksim Gorky and his son. During the Trial of the Twenty One in 1938, NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda admitted that he poisoned to death Maksim Gorky and his son and unsuccessfully tried to poison future NKVD boss Nikolay Ezhov. The attempted poisoning of Ezhov 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 Iosif Stalin. Russian historians Anton Antonov-Ovseenko and Edvard Radzinsky found that Stalin was poisoned by associates of NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria, based on the interviews of a former Stalin's body guard and numerous circumstantial evidence (Stalin planned to dismiss and execute Beria and other senior members of the Soviet government in 1953). According to Radzinsky, Stalin was poisoned by Khrustalev, a senior bodyguard briefly mentioned in memories of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter.
  • 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. She survived and was assassinated later. According to a report by The Sunday Times, the drug was prepared in the FSB poison facility.

Planned victims

  • President of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito. In the late 1940s, the laboratory manufactured a powdered plague for use in a small container and where the assassin was vaccinated against plague. The device was to be used against Tito, but MGB agent "Max" (I.R.Grigulevich) was unable or refused to fulfill this assignment.
  • 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 design of 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."


When Vladimir Lenin asked Stalin to give him poison, he probably meant from this laboratory (known at this time as "Special office") (but the poison was never given to him according to most historians).

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