Putin the Poisoner strikes again

Russian President Vladimir Putin has set Ukraine afire, killing many thousands and reducing ancient cities such as Mariupol to ashes. His pursuit of dreams of conquest has led to his new nickname, Vlad the Mad. But long before he was Vlad the Mad, he was dubbed Putin the Poisoner.

His old moniker was in the news again this week after the chemical or biological poisoning of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and other Ukrainian peace negotiators, who suddenly developed inexplicable physical symptoms. It was hardly Putin’s first suspected poisoning.

He is heir to a centurylong tradition of poisonings, beginning with Stalin’s establishment of the notorious poison lab known as Laboratory One in downtown Moscow and massive biowar facilities at Saratov, still in use today. When direct execution or simple disappearance was politically undesirable or impractical, Stalin used secret poisons and bioweapons such as curare, potassium and anthrax to stage seemingly natural deaths.

As Soviet KGB defector Walter Krivitsky famously said, “Any fool can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to commit a good natural death.” A variety of famous people succumbed to Stalin’s poisons and bioweapons, ranging from the brutal founder of the KGB Felix Dzerzhinsky and Orthodox Patriarch Tikhon to the prima ballerina Anna Pavlova and short-story writer Maxim Gorky. It is also believed that both Lenin and Stalin were poisoned.

In a 2012 presidential debate, Putin bragged of Russia’s “genetic” weapons (the successors to the USSR’s notorious Project Enzyme Biowar Project). Later, in a 2017 speech to Russian security operatives, he singled out the famous poison leader Yakov Serebryansky as the greatest of all Soviet agents. Putin has not only heralded Russia’s “special” weapons — he has used them over and over again.

Shortly after Putin’s 2000 election as Russia’s prime minister, Anatoly Sobchak, Putin’s mentor who described Putin as a “new Stalin,” died suddenly with no prior symptoms of an apparent heart attack. Both of his bodyguards likewise developed simultaneous coronary problems. In a parade of convenient deaths, more than 20 opposition journalists and political opponents strangely died from unsolved shootings, poisonings, car bombings and “natural” deaths, which, like so many in Stalin’s day, were anything but natural.

Recently, as he was led to jail, likely for the rest of his life, brave poisoning victim and Putin opponent Alexei Navalny said, “[Putin’s] only method is killing people. For as much as he pretends to be a great geopolitician, he will go down in history as a poisoner.”

Putin, like Stalin’s famous Yasha Group of the 1920-30s, deals death by poisons and bioweapons through a highly decorated, secret group known as Unit 29155, based for a time in France. The unit has been implicated in many murders in England, France and elsewhere using a variety of poisons. A likely victim even includes Stalin’s own grandson Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, found dead of unknown causes immediately after accusing Putin of being “without brains.”

Unit 29155 has also been particularly active in Ukraine, poisoning its Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko with dioxin in 2004, causing severe facial disfigurement, and possibly poisoning Russian Ministry of Defense head Sergei Shoigu for recent failures in Ukraine, causing a sudden heart attack.

Unit 29155 is believed to have poisoned at least 14 people in England alone, including the attack on former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in 2018. Perhaps the most famous of Putin’s poisoning victims is Russian defector and former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko. Addressing Putin from his deathbed in 2006, Litvinenko stated, “You may succeed in silencing one man, but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.”

Putin has earned his nickname of Putin the Poisoner, escalating from retail poisoning of political opponents to wholesale murder of many thousands in the ruins of Ukraine. His biowar facilities at Saratov and in the Urals are the most sophisticated on Earth and controlled by a man who fancies himself a second Stalin.

The great writer Gorky, shortly before his likely poisoning death by Stalin, analogized Stalin in his diary to an ordinary flea magnified several thousand times into the most fearful animal on Earth, penning, “Stalin is a flea which Bolshevik propaganda and the hypnosis of fear have magnified to unbelievable proportions.”

Putin the Poisoner similarly strives to be a fearsome creature under the microscope of his possession of poisons, bioweapons and nuclear weapons.

John O’Neill, a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author, and Sarah Wynne are the co-authors of “The Dancer and The Devil” (Regnery, April 26, 2022), a forthcoming account of murders and biowar by Stalin, Putin and Xi.

Tags Joseph Stalin Poisoning of Alexei Navalny Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal Russia Ukraine Ukraine invasion Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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