Gas explosion reported at Russian research facility that houses Ebola and smallpox

Vector RussiaRussian authorities announced on Tuesday that a gas explosion had damaged a section of a medical facility in Siberia that houses live samples of viruses such as Ebola and smallpox, but added that there was no need to declare a biomedical emergency. The explosion reportedly took place on Monday at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, known as Vector. The six-floor concrete and steel facility is located in the isolated Siberian town of Kotsovo, near the city of Novosibirsk, 600 miles from the Mongolian border.

Vector was founded in 1974 by the Soviet state to study mass infectious agents that could be used to build biological weapons. Today it remains as one of the world’s largest virology research centers, specializing in the treatment of some of the most lethal infectious diseases, such as Ebola, tularemia and swine flu. The Vector facility is believed to be one of two locations in the world that house live samples of the smallpox virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States city of Atlanta is also believed to house samples of the virus.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Russian state-owned news agency TASS, the Vector facility sustained an explosion on Monday afternoon local time. The explosion was reportedly caused by a gas canister used by workers who were carrying out repairs at a sanitary inspection room located on the fifth floor of the Vector facility. An employee suffered unspecified injuries as a result of the explosion, according to the statement. However, “no work with biological agents was being carried out in the [Vector] building” at the time of the explosion, so there was no need for a state of emergency, according to the statement. Russian media reported on Tuesday that Vector personnel were present on the site and that no biological threat alerts had been issued.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 18 September 2019 | Permalink

News you may have missed #0229

  • Russians claim outing ‘100 spies’ in Novosibirsk in 2009. Siberian scientific centers in Novosibirsk, and especially in its suburb of Akademgorodok, nicknamed “science city” by the Russians, are noted for their research in the fields of oil and gas geology, nanotechnology, creation of new materials, and biochemistry, among other subjects. See here for previous intelNews reporting on this issue.
  • Obama proposes liaison exchange with North Korea. US President Barack Obama has proposed setting up a liaison office in North Korea –something like a US Interests Section– in a letter to leader Kim Jong Il. Such a move would help augment the US’ meager intelligence gathering in North Korea.
  • Estonian phone, web data tapped by Swedish intelligence? The Estonian Security Police (KaPo) has cautioned Estonian telecommunications users to avoid discussing “sensitive subjects” by phone and on the Internet, after an Estonian newspaper revealed that large chunks of Estonia’s telecommunications traffic pass through Sweden before reaching the outside world.

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Comment: Did Russian Intelligence Hack Climate-Change Emails?

Tomsk, Siberia

Tomsk, Siberia

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
For over a fortnight, the world’s news services have focused on the so-called ‘Climategate’, the hundreds of University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit emails that were hacked from the university’s server and leaked onto the Internet. The stolen emails, some of which date back to 1996, have reignited conspiracy theories about the role of human activity in climate change. But there is surprisingly little discussion about who hacked into the university’s server and stole the personal emails.

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Russian intelligence notes influx of foreign spies into Siberia

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The press office of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has announced a noticeable increase in espionage activity by agents of foreign governments in Siberia. Russian counterintelligence agents have apparently detected increased presence of operatives from Asian-Pacific countries in and around Siberian scientific centers in Novosibirsk, and especially in its suburb of Akademgorodok, nicknamed “science city” by the Russians. The head of FSB’s local directorate in Novosibirsk, Sergey Savchenkov, said that “dozens of foreign spies” had been discovered in the region in 2008″, and that most of them were targeting Russian scientists using “all possible means” to extract confidential information. Siberian academic facilities are noted for their research in the fields of oil and gas geology, nanotechnology, creation of new materials, and biochemistry, among other subjects. This is not the first time in recent months that the FSB has drawn attention to scientific and technical espionage on Russian soil. In December of 2008, Major-General Valeriy Beklenishchev, who heads the FSB’s Saratov branch, said nanotechnology research projects conducted at regional universities, as well as research on “heat and power engineering and electronics” were prime espionage targets of foreign operatives.