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Soviet Chemical Weapons Expert: Dumping Was 'Common Practice'

Vil Mirzayanov
Vil Mirzayanov
A Soviet chemical weapons expert says he is nearly certain that a report claiming the Soviet military dumped chemical weapons and radioactive waste in the Baltic Sea during the 1990s is accurate, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Vil Mirzayanov told RFE/RL that a Swedish report about the Soviet military's dumping "reflects the reality of that time." He said dumping to get
rid of toxic materials and to hide illegal chemical weapons "was a common practice at that time."

A documentary shown on February 3 by the Swedish channel SVT said dangerous waste from a former Soviet military base in Latvia was dumped by Soviet boats at night near Gotland Island between 1989 and 1992.

Mirzayanov, 75, was a scientist at a secret Russian chemical weapons laboratory, but wrote articles from 1991-92 that detailed Russia's development of new chemical agents. He was arrested for revealing state secrets but later released following an international outcry. He left Russia in 1996 and now lives in the United States.

Some Swedish politicians are calling for an official investigation into the allegations because the reported dumping is said to have occurred in Sweden's economic zone.

Officials deny that the two alleged sites where dumping took place are near the location of the planned Nord Stream gas-pipeline project. Mirzayanov said "if the pipeline would go through that area, it would be a catastrophe."