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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Shikany / Volsk-18

Shikhany is located some 100 kilometers from Saratov. The development of chemical activities at Shikany began in 1924. The first Russian chemical weapon laboratory began operations in Moscow in 1923, and in 1926 a secret facility was established in Shikhany under the code name "Tomko" to conduct work under the secret Soviet-German agreement on chemical weapons production.

Following the Great Patriotic War facilities were divided between different ministries,though it is difficult to distinguish the two halves of the town. Shikhany (Volsk-18) consists of Shikhany-1 and Shikhany-2, which are approximately five kilometers apart. The entire complex has a population variously reported as between 12,000 and 15,000 civilians live, along with more than 60,000 military personnel. The civilian city of Volsk is approximately 15 km from Shikhany and Saratov is 130 km down the Volga.

The Shikany-1 State Institute for Organic Synthesis Technologiesis was assigned to the Industry Ministry, and located in a small facility that is one of the primary research centers on hazardous chemicals with civilian applications. The experimental scientific center at Shikany halted its activities in February 1994, offering its 2,500 staff the choice of either seeking another job or taking an enforced vacation. Since the employees had not received their wages since December 1993, there was an immediate exodus reducing the staff to 1,500 left.

The Shikany-2 Scientific Experiments Institute is Russia's primary center for the development of chemical weapons as well as protective measures against chemical, bacteriological and nuclear weapons. The facility includes the Defense Ministry's test range for chemical and radiological weapons and defense systems. The Shikany-2 facility covers some 460 square kilometers, including a lake that is the source of the Bagayka stream that flows into the Volga River. On 22 July 1987 the CPSU Central Committee Politburo decided to organize a demonstration of standard samples of domestically produced chemical weapons at Shikhany. In early October 1987 the Soviet Army's 12 chemical weapons were demonstrated there to diplomats and journalists.

The Shikany-2 facility includes a chemical weapons burial site with approximately 4,000 metric tons of adamsite collected from all over the former Soviet Union. Previously formulated plans for diggin up the adamsite and repackaging it at a better storage site have been delayed due to a lack of funds. On the other side of the Volga at a distance of 100 kilometers lies the Gorny chemical weapons storage facility.

The State Institute of Organic Synthesis Technologies [GITOS] is located some 200 kilometers from the Shikhany military facility, but together they comprised a single military-industrial complex.

On 30 June 1997 Russian Federation Presidential Edict No. 646 transformed the City of Shikhany, Saratov Oblast, into a Closed Administrative-Territorial Formation to create a reliable protective zone to ensure the safe operation of the State Institute for Organic Synthesis Technology and the environmental safety of the population. The closed administrative-territorial formation is located on two plots of land covering a total area of 984.2 hectares with borders following the internal perimeter of the territory of Troop Unit 61469, which provides security for the facility. Consequently, travel to Shikhany is restricted, and the special procuracy, the special police, the special courts directly under Moscow"s jurisdiction have been reinstated in the city. A ban was also be introduced on the privatization and sale of housing and other real estate. Under this edict the chemical center will regain its special financing from the state budget.

The Saratov Chemical Defense School has shifted to training specialists in the area of chemical weapons destruction.

It is reported that a "Plague Institute" associated with the Soviet biological weapons program is also located in this Saratov complex.

Sources and Methods

  • Problems With Chemical Weapons Material Stored in Shikany Area Viewed : JPRS-TEN-94-007-L : 15 June 1994
  • Transcript of 2 July TV Program on Shikhany CW Center : JPRS-TAC-94-009-L : 2 July 1994
  • Shikhany Becomes Closed Administrative Formation : FBIS-TEN-97-195 : 14 Jul 1997
  • Chemical Weapons Center Declared "Closed City" : FBIS-SOV-97-211 : 30 Jul 1997
  • Expert Eyes Russian Chemical Arsenals : JPRS-TAC-95-006-L : 26 January 1995

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:49:10 ZULU