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The KGB's Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko    by Boris Volodatsky order for
KGB's Poison Factory
by Boris Volodatsky
Order:  USA  Can
Zenith Press, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

A former captain of the Soviet Union's GRU Spetsnaz, Boris Volodarsky is currently an independent intelligence analyst, a member of the Hoover Institution's World Association of International Studies, and the co-editor of the international intelligence history magazine Personal Files.

In this inside look at the Russian intelligence service's clandestine operations on foreign soil, you'll read about the various ways poisons and other toxic substances were utilized to eliminate enemies of the Kremlin. Beginning in 1917 with Lenin and his Cheka (a predecessor of the KGB), there have been numerous successful and unsuccessful attempts to assassinate enemies of the state.

Volodatsky looks at twenty assassinations where poison was the weapon of choice used to murder opponents of the regime. While some of these attempted and successful assassinations are already known, like the death of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, others are revealed in this book for the first time.

Writing with the voice of authority, the author has personal involvement in many of the cases he discusses in this book. For example, he shares first hand knowledge of the 1957 poisoning of Soviet defector Nikolai Khokhlov in Germany, the 1978 ricin murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in England, and the failed attempt on Victor Yushchenko's life in 2004.

The information contained in this book is the stuff high-octane thrillers are fashioned from. Although the Russian authorities deny the author's claims and call this a work of fiction, Boris Volodarsky would beg to differ. The high tech labs that produced the subtle assassination compounds used in these operations are a reality. And, more to the point, the victims and potential victims really did or do exist.

Anyone curious about the way sophisticated assassins work today will want to read this fascinating and controversial book. One also has to wonder if labs and operations of this nature are exclusive to just one nation.

During the Cold War it wouldn't be surprising if both sides resorted to the use of these techniques for removing perceived enemies and, no doubt, there are countries today that might seriously consider engaging in such activities.

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