Stalin’s Secret Weapon

The Origins of Soviet Biological Warfare

Anthony Rimmington

A chilling reassessment of the Soviet Union’s advances in biological warfare, and the West’s inadvertent contributions.

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Stalin’s Secret Weapon Hardback
September 2018£30.00
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Stalin’s Secret Weapon is a gripping account of the early history of the globally significant Soviet biological weapons programme, including its key scientists, its secret experimental bases and the role of intelligence specialists, establishing beyond doubt that the infrastructure created by Stalin continues to form the core of Russia’s current biological defence network.

Anthony Rimmington has enjoyed privileged access to an array of newly available sources and materials, including declassified British Secret Intelligence Service reports. The evidence contained therein has led him to conclude that the programme, with its network of dedicated facilities and proving grounds, was far more extensive than previously considered, easily outstripping those of the major Western powers.

As Rimmington reveals, many of the USSR’s leading infectious disease scientists, including those focused on pneumonic plague, were recruited by the Soviet military and intelligence services. At the dark heart of this bacteriological archipelago lay Stalin, and his involvement is everywhere to be seen, from the promotion of favoured researchers to the political repression and execution of the lead biological warfare specialist, Ivan Mikhailovich Velikanov.


Anthony Rimmington is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Russian, European & Eurasian Studies, University of Birmingham. He has published several scholarly articles on the Soviet Union's offensive biological weapons programme and the civil life sciences industry in Russia and the former Soviet Republics.