A leading Russian scientists has disappeared after being accused of fraud
Professor Ilya Drozdov, 63, a scientist with knowledge of Moscow's bio-warfare secrets, has been put on Interpol's wanted list, suggesting the authorities fear he has gone abroad, according to reports.
For five years he was head of world famous Russian State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology, Vector, in Koltsovo, Siberia, a secret institute under heavy guard.
This centre produced smallpox on an industrial scale, while also weaponising Marburg, as part of the Soviet biological weapons programme, it has been reported.
In recent years Vector has been involved in efforts to find cures and antidotes to killers such as bubonic plague, anthrax, hepatitis B, HIV and cancer.
There has been no comment from Russian police over where they think Drozdov is now, or, for example, if they fear he has fled to the West or a country that might wish to exploit his expertise.
But the Interior Ministry confirmed he is on their wanted list and faces immediate detention if he can be found.
Ilya Drozdov worked at Vector, a research lab looking to cure diseases like anthrax and cholera
A court decision this week in Novosibirsk ordered Drozdov to be arrested "in absentia" over alleged fraud, in a mysterious case linked to Vector which was only launched four years after he left the research centre, one of Russia's most heavily guarded sites, reported The Siberian Times.
The case accuses him of misappropriating around £27,000.
After leaving Vector in 2010, he returned to the southern Russian city of Saratov, where he had earlier headed another major complex called Russian Scientific Research Anti-Plague Institute 'Microbe', providing protection against dangerous diseases like bubonic plague, anthrax, and cholera.
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Vector holds one of only two sources of smallpox left on Earth, the other being in the US
Colleagues at Vector claimed that as director he paid "exorbitant" salaries to executives, while laboratory workers received 'humiliatingly low wages'.
Vector holds one of only two sources of smallpox in the world – the other is in the US – under an international agreement.