This extraordinary memoir by a leading Russian scientist who worked for decades at the nerve center of the top-secret "Biopreparat" offers a chilling look into the biological weapons program of the former Soviet Union, vestiges of which still exist today in the Russian Federal Republic. Igor Domaradskij calls himself an "inconvenient man": a dedicated scientist but a nonconformist who was often in conflict with government and military apparatchiks. In this book he reveals the deadly nature of the research he participated in for almost fifteen years.
From 1950 till 1973, Domaradskij played an increasingly important role as a specialist in the area of epidemic bacterial infections. He was largely responsible for an effective system of plague control within the former USSR, which prevented mass outbreaks of rodent-born diseases. But after twenty-three years of making significant scientific contributions, his work was suddenly redirected.
Under pressure from the Soviet military he helped design, create, and direct Biopreparat, the goal of which was to develop new types of biological weapons. From the inception of this highly secret venture Domaradskij openly expressed his skepticism and criticized it as a risky gamble and a serious error by the government. Eventually his critical attitude forced him out of the communist party, and finally cost him the opportunity of continuing his scientific work.
Domaradskij goes into great detail about the secrecy, intrigue, and the bureaucratic maze that enveloped the Biopreparat scientists, making them feel like helpless pawns. What stands out in his account is the hasty, patchwork nature of the Soviet effort in bioweaponry. Far from being a smooth-running, terrifying monolith, this was an enterprise cobbled together out of the conflicts and contretemps of squabbling party bureaucrats, military know-nothings, and restless, ambitious scientists. In some ways the inefficiency and lack of accountability in this system make it all the more frightening as a worldwide threat. For today its dimensions are still not fully known, nor is it certain that any one group is completely in control of the proliferation of this lethal weaponry.
Biowarrior is disturbing but necessary reading for anyone wishing to understand the nature and dimensions of the biological threat in an era of international terrorism.