Vil Sultanovich Mirzayanov (Russian: Вил Султанович Мирзаянов, Tatar: Вил Солтан улы Мирзаҗанов; born 9 March 1935 in Starokangyshevo, Dyurtyulinsky District, Bashkortostan) is a Russian chemist of ethnic Tatar origin who now lives in the United States, best known for revealing secret chemical weapons experimentation in Russia.
Vil Sultanovich Mirzayanov was born in a village in rural Bashkortostan, the son of the village school teacher. The Mirzayanov family is Tatar, a Turkic ethnic minority in Russia. His father, a staunch Communist, broke with a 200 year old family tradition in which the oldest sons entered the Muslim clergy. In 1953, he graduated from the Dyurtyuli Tatar School No. 1 with a silver medal.
Mirzayanov was employed by the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology. He was then assigned to a secret military chemical weapons laboratory, GosNIIOKhT (Russian: ГосНИИОХТ) situated in Shikhany, which was developing the Novichok agent programme of nerve agents. He was head of a counter-intelligence department that performed measurements outside the chemical weapons facilities to make sure that foreign spies could not detect any traces of production. To his horror, the levels of deadly substances were 80 times greater than the maximum safe concentration. (A full account by Mirzayanov is available online.)
Concerned mostly with environmental contamination, Mirzayanov and his colleague Lev Fyodorov decided to reveal the extent of chemical weapons experimentation in Russia, which Russia used as a workaround to comply with the proposed 1990 Chemical Weapons Accord and the existing Wyoming Memorandum of Understanding but still produce chemical-like weapons. In 1992, they published an article about the USSR and Russia's development of extremely potent fourth-generation chemical weapons from the 1970s until the early 1990s, in Moskovskiye Novosti weekly, and for safety purposes in the Baltimore Sun through an associated article written by veteran correspondent Will Englund. The publication appeared just on the eve of Russia's signing of the 1990 Chemical Weapons Convention. Later according to Mirzayanov, the Russian Military Chemical Complex (MCC) was using defense conversion money received from the West for development of the chemical warfare facility.
Exposing Russian secrets
Mirzayanov was arrested on October 22, 1992, on charges of treason, brought by the Russian military industrial complex authorities — he was not allowed to know the exact charges, as they were also declared a state secret. Held in Lefortovo prison, during the resultant court case, the existence of Novichok agents was openly admitted by Russian authorities. According to expert witness testimonies prepared for the KGB by three scientists, Novichok and other related chemical agents had indeed been produced and therefore the disclosure by Mirzayanov represented high treason.
However, the trial collapsed. Mirzayanov was released because "not one of the formulas or names of poisonous substances in the Moscow News article was new to the Soviet press, nor were locations ... of testing sites revealed." According to Yevgenia Albats, "the real state secret revealed by Fyodorov and Mirzayanov was that generals had lied — and were still lying — to both the international community and their fellow citizens."
Mirzayanov was released, but kept under house arrest and observation. In 1995 he relocated to the United States where he presently resides, taking a position at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
On October 26, 2008, Mirzayanov was elected to the Presidium of the Milli Mejlis of the Tatar People in exile. On January 17, 2009, in an article on CNN, he published the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF TATARSTAN, adopted at a Special Meeting of the Milli Mejlis of the Tatar People on December 20, 2008. At a conference on the separation of Tatarstan from Russia, held in Ankara in the same year, Mirzayanov was elected "Prime Minister" of the "government in exile". In March 2010, Mirzayanov signed the "Putin Must Go" campaign.
In March 2018, after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Mirzayanov spoke about how Russia maintained tight control over its Novichok stockpile and that the agent is too complicated for a non-state actor to have weaponized. "It's torture. It's absolutely incurable." "I never imagined even in my bad dreams that this chemical weapon, developed with my participation, would be used as terrorist weapons." Both victims later recovered and left the hospital. Mirzayanov said only the Russians can be behind the weapon's use in the poisoning and said he was convinced Russia carried it out as a way of intimidating opponents of President Vladimir Putin. He added that the Russians could argue that maybe someone had synthesized them "and they could make me guilty!"
Lew Alexandrowitsch Fjodorow (Lev Fyodorov)
- State Secrets - About the Author - Biography of Dr. Vil Mirzayanov, outskirtspress.com
- Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State Within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia — Past, Present, and Future, 1994. ISBN 0-374-18104-7 (see pages 325-328)
- "Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects; Dismantling the Soviet/Russian Chemical Weapons Complex: An Insider's View" (PDF). Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, D.C. 17 October 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2015.
- Darling, Robert G.; Noste, Erin E. (2016). "Future Biological and Chemical Weapons". In Ciottone, Gregory R. (ed.). Ciottone's Disaster Medicine (Second ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. pp. 489–498. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-28665-7.00080-7. ISBN 9780323286657.
- Lev Fyodorov and Vil Mirzayanov, "Poisoned Politics," Moskovskiye Novosti weekly No. 39, 1992. Much of this information was published earlier in the newspaper "Top Secret" run by Artyom Borovik in September 1991. However the KGB did not arrest Mirzayanov earlier due to political turmoil in Russia at this time, according to a book by Yevgenia Albats.
- Will Englund (September 16, 1992). "Ex-Soviet scientist says Gorbachev's regime created new nerve gas in '91". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- Will Englund (March 12, 2018). "What a brave Russian scientist told me about Novichok, the nerve agent identified in the spy attack". Washington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5
- "the talk [by Mirzayanov] about binary weapons was no more than a verbal construct, an argument ex adverso, and only the MCC [Russian Military Chemical Complex] could corroborate or refute this natural assumption. By entangling V. S. Mirzayanov in investigation, the MCC confirmed the stated hypothesis, advancing it to the ranks of proven facts." Chemical Weapons in Russia: History, Ecology, Politics www.fas.org, accessed 9 October 2020
- David Hoffman (August 16, 1998). "Wastes of War: Soviets Reportedly Built Weapon Despite Pact". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
- Мирзаянов Милли Мәҗлеснең Баш нәзире итеп сайланды tr. Mirzayanov was elected Prime Minister of the National Assembly, azatliq.org
- THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF TATARSTAN, cnn.com, January 17, 2009
- Вил Мирзаянов - биография, stuki-druki.com (Biography in Russian including some images)
- Novichok nerve agent inventor says only Russia could be behind UK poison attack. Reuters/AP, ABC News Online, 2018-03-14
- Alistair Smout, Guy Faulconbridge (7 April 2018). "Poisoned Russian agent Sergei Skripal recovering rapidly, hospital says". Reuters. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- Nathoo, Leila (18 May 2018). "Ex-spy Sergei Skripal discharged after poisoning". BBC News. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- It's The Russians, Says Chemist Who Uncovered Existence Of 'Novichok'. NDTV. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Biography of Vil Mirzayanov
- Lev Fyodorov and Vil Mirzayanov, "Poisoned Politics," Moskovskiye Novosti weekly No. 38, 1992 (September, 20). Much of this information was published earlier in the newspaper "Top Secret" run by Artyom Borovik in September 1991. However the KGB did not arrest Mirzayanov earlier due to political turmoil in Russia at this time, according to a book by Yevgenia Albats.
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. October 1993. pp. 12–. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Vil S. Mirzayanov (30 December 2008). State Secrets: An Insider's Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program. Outskirts Press. ISBN 978-1-4327-1923-4. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Eric Croddy; James J. Wirtz (31 January 2005). Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Encyclopedia of Worldwide Policy, Technology, and History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 201–. ISBN 978-1-85109-490-5. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- United States of America Congressional Record Proceedings and Debates of the 103d Congress Second Session Vol 140- Part 10. Government Printing Office. pp. 14391–. GGKEY:0PF9YKPYEAG. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Chemical Weapons: An Expose
- "Dismantling the Soviet/Russian Chemical Weapons Complex"
- Iranian chemists identify Russian chemical warfare agents