EXCLUSIVE: A shadowy unit of Moscow’s domestic FSB spy agency linked to the Alexei Navalny novichok attack is suspected of being behind the secret plans involving deadly virusesmirror
Russian scientists are suspected of a “doomsday weapons” project involving deadly Ebola virus.
A unit of Moscow’s FSB spy agency linked to the Salisbury novichok poisonings is thought to be behind the programme codenamed Toledo.
Investigators believe the name refers to either the Spanish city, which was hit by a killer plague in 1958, or Toledo, Ohio, devastated by a flu bug in 1918.
One ex-UK military intelligence source confirms that Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, could be including Ebola and the related Marburg virus in its weapons programme.
Both highly contagious diseases cause organ failure with massive internal bleeding and have killed thousands in Africa.
The UK source said: “Both Russia and the UK have labs studying biological and chemical warfare to learn how to defend against weapons such as novichok.
“But if, simultaneously, Russia is studying how to weaponise Ebola and Marburg, that has horrific possibilities.
“Moscow has repeatedly shown a willingness and capability of using weapons such as novichok, even on the streets of the UK. This steps it up a level.
“It could mean Russia potentially stepping up research on Ebola and Marburg and looking at its lethality as a weapon.”
Investigators from the non-profitmaking OpenFacto organisation say they have discovered the Russian Ministry of Defence has a secret unit called the 48th Central Research Institute devoted to studying “rare and lethal” pathogens.
It is affiliated to the 33rd Central Research Institute, which developed novichok. OpenFacto says both have been sanctioned by the US for “likely conducting research for the biological weapons”.
And it claims the 48th Central Research Institute has been supplying data to FSB unit 68240, the organisation behind Toledo.https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/widgets/established/supportGroup?fixedheight&webreachnews&theme=mirror
Russia expert Bruce Jones said: “Most major powers can develop these hot and very deadly viruses. But they do this defensively.
“At the end of the Cold War, Russia stepped away from any agreements in relation to weaponising them.
“The difference between Russia and the West is that they do have form for using this kind of thing as a weapon, as we saw in the Salisbury novichok attack.”