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Kolokol-1 (Russian: Колокол meaning "bell") is a synthetic opioid developed for use as an aerosolizable incapacitating agent. Although the exact chemical structure has not yet been revealed, it is thought to be a derivative of the potent opioid fentanyl, most probably 3-methylfentanyl dissolved in halothane as an organic solvent.[1]

Development and early use[edit]

According to Lev Fyodorov, a former Soviet chemical weapons scientist who now heads the independent Council for Chemical Security in Moscow, the agent was originally developed around a secret military research facility in Leningrad (now restored to its historic name of Saint Petersburg), during the 1970s. Methods of dispersing the compound were reportedly developed and tested by releasing harmless bacteria through subway system ventilation shafts, first in Moscow and then in Novosibirsk. Fyodorov also claimed that leaders of the failed August 20, 1991 Communist coup considered using the agent in the Russian parliament building.[2]

Use during Moscow theater hostage crisis[edit]

Kolokol-1 is thought to be the chemical agent employed by a Russian Spetsnaz team during the Moscow theater hostage crisis in October 2002. At least 129 hostages died during the ensuing raid; nearly all of these fatalities were attributed to the effects of the aerosolised incapacitating agent that was pumped into the theatre to subdue the militants. The gas was later stated by Russian Health Minister Yuri Shevchenko to be based on fentanyl.[3]


  1. ^ Russia Confirms Suspicions About Gas Used in Raid, Washington Post, 31 October 2002.
  2. ^ Gas looks like secret KGB tool, New York Daily News, 29 October 2002
  3. ^ "Russia names Moscow Siege Gas". BBC. October 31, 2002.