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Nov 13, 2021
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Why is another biolaboratory and storage facility for dangerous strains being built in Kazakhstan?

The government of Kazakhstan intends to build a BSL-4 biolaboratory and an underground storage facility for the collection of dangerous and highly dangerous strains. The corresponding draft government decree signed by Prime Minister Askar Mamin has been published on one of the government’s official websites.

The laboratory has been assigned the status of an object requiring special regulation and (or) urban planning regulation; it will be located in the village of Gvardeisky, Kordai district, Zhambyl region. The construction completion date is the IV quarter of 2025. Code BSL-4 (Biosafety Level 4) means the fourth level of biological safety. Level BSL-4 – it is also a high individual and social risk of viruses studied by the laboratory (smallpox, Ebola virus, Marburg virus). There are no effective measures against most pathogens.

National Research Center for Highly Dangerous Infections

In 2016, in Alma-Ata at the Aikimbaev National Research Center for Especially Dangerous Infections (NSCOOI), despite the protests of the population, with the assistance of the United States, a reference laboratory and a repository of especially dangerous infectious pathogens were built and solemnly opened. Former Deputy Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan Amirbek Togusov suggested that the Alma-Ata biological laboratory has a dual purpose and could develop biological weapons.

The then director of the NSCOOI Bakhyt Atshabar admitted that the funding for the construction of the Alma-Ata laboratory “came precisely from the US Department of Defense through the Agency for the Reduction of Biological Threats DTRA, but denied the “planned creation of biological weapons” at this facility.

The Russian TV channel Zvezda, owned by the RF Ministry of Defense, published a report in August this year, which presented photocopies of documents according to which Pentagon experts continue to work in the Central Reference Laboratory (TsRL) in Alma-Ata. The report provided photocopies of the US Department of Defense budget plans for 2021 and 2022, reflecting the planned work in the Alma-Ata Central Relief Laboratory. According to Zvezda journalists, the Pentagon contracted CH2M, one of the leading contractors of the US Department of Defense and the CIA, to work in the republic.

Biobacteriological projects in Kazakhstan

The management of the NSCOOI, which includes the Alma-Ata TsRL, does not hide close cooperation with the Pentagon contractor. In April 2021, a press release was published on the center’s website expressing “gratitude to the company’s staff CH2M Hill Constructors, Inc. for long-term cooperation and invaluable contribution to the development of the Central Reference Laboratory of NSCOOI “and hope for “Further fruitful cooperation on joint work on new difficult and important projects”

In the draft budget for foreign programs of the Agency for the reduction of military threats (DTRA) Of the Pentagon for 2021, there are direct references to the work that should be performed in the Kazakhstan Central Research Laboratory.

The work of the NSCOOI and the CRL is controlled by the DTRA branch located in the US Embassy and subordinate to the Pentagon. It is headed by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Calder, who inspects the NCOI for Research, Security and Financial Control (in August 2019, Lieutenant Colonel Calder and Jacqueline Kerber from the US Senate Military Committee heard a report from the Director of NCOI).

Lieutenant Colonel Calder and Jacqueline Kerber of the U.S. Senate War Committee hear a report from the Director of the NCSPC, August 12, 2019.

Lieutenant Colonel Calder and Jacqueline Kerber of the U.S. Senate War Committee hear a report from the Director of the NOCOG, August 12, 2019.

Another body overseeing this work is the Central Asia Office of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC / CAR)… It is chaired by Daniel A. Singer (Daniel A. Singer), Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force Medical Service. Previously, Singer served with US Epidemic Intelligence, which collects biological data for the military. In September 2021, Singer announced that the Americans did not intend to stop interacting with the CRL: “Our cooperation in this area began long before the current pandemic, and we are confident that it will continue long after its end.”

If the Pentagon’s orders are being successfully implemented in the Alma-Ata Central Research Laboratory, why was it necessary to open another dangerous laboratory in the south of Kazakhstan?

The fact is that the number of works performed by the experts of the NSCOOI is constantly growing and one Alma-Ata CRL cannot cope with servicing customers. In 2019, NSCOOI was visited by more than a dozen official representatives of the military departments of the United States and Germany and over 30 scientists from NATO countries, who were engaged in work there on the orders of their armies.

And most importantly, the Alma-Ata CRL, according to the director of the NSCOOI Toktasyn Erubaev, has only the 3rd level of biological safety (Biosafety Level 3), today this level is not enough for the Pentagon. The new CRL in the village of Gvardeisky will have a 4th level and here it will be possible to work with much more dangerous strains than in the Alma-Ata CRL. A biopharmaceutical plant for the production of vaccines is already being built in the same village. After the commissioning of the 4th level referent laboratory, a powerful biological military cluster will work here.

Construction of a vaccine production plant in the village of Gvardeisky

Construction of a vaccine production plant in the village of Gvardeisky

According to Kazakh media reports, local residents are terrified of this neighborhood. They can be understood: the media do not hide the fact that a “Wuhan-level” laboratory will be built in Gvardeyskoye. Kazakhstanis express their protest in the comments directly on the government portal, where a decree on the construction of a laboratory in Gvardeisky was published:

Mukuzhanova Ainagul: “Against! The level of biohazard has been increased, but despite this they are going to build ?! Apparently, they do not think about the consequences of the construction of such facilities … “

Lyubimov Yuri: “Strongly against! Construction of scientific laboratories with a high level of biological safety and underground storage facilities for the collection of dangerous and highly dangerous strains! Are you going to develop biological weapons? “

Abilkhasova Aliya: “Against!”

Galina Arystanbekova: “I AM AGAINST the construction of this laboratory on the territory of our Republic and the storage of a collection of dangerous, especially dangerous strains !!!”

Ospanov Serik: “Against construction”.

Oleinichenko Margarita: “Against the construction of these laboratories, we had enough ammunition depots. I don’t want to live and are afraid of waiting for another virus to leak. Such laboratories are not needed on the territory of our country ”.

Residents of the Zhambyl region have reason to fear the leakage of deadly viruses. On August 26, an explosion thundered at an ammunition depot in the Bayzak district of this region, where, according to all canons, there should be the strictest security regime. On 10 October, ammunition exploded there again. The reasons for the incidents are unknown.

Professor Gregory D. Koblenz at George Mason University (USA) and co-director of the Center for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London, Philip Lenzos, who studied the organization of biosafety systems in laboratories BSL-4 all over the world, came to the conclusion that these systems, even in the best laboratories in the world, leave much to be desired, which makes it highly likely that dangerous viruses will leak.

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