A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised members of Russia’s human rights council by informing them that some shadowy entity - possibly with ties to the United States - had been collecting biological tissues from Russians from different ethnic groups, the group responsible for harvesting the tissue has revealed itself.
While some initially discounted Putin's remars as another loony conspiracy theory, as it turns out, he was right: The group responsible for the tissue collection was none other than the US Air Force, proving that yet another conspiracy theory has become a conspiracy fact.
A representative for the US Air Force Education and Training Command explained to Russia Today that the choice of the Russian population was not intentional, and is related to research the Air Force is conducting on the human musculoskeletal system.
Eyebrows were first raised in July when the AETC issued a tender seeking to acquire samples of ribonucleic acid and synovial fluid from Russians, adding that all samples (12 RNA and 27 synovial fluid) “shall be collected from Russia and must be Caucasian.” The Air Force said it wouldn’t collect samples from Ukrainians, but didn’t specify why.
According to AETC spokesman Capt. Beau Downey, the 59th medical group’s molecular research center is currently conducting “locomotor studies to identify various biomarkers associated with trauma.”
Downey told Russian media that the study required two sets of samples: disease and control samples of RNA and synovial membrane. The first set was provided by a “US-based company.”
Since the first set of tissue, provided by a US company, was sourced from Russia, the Air Force opted to collect the second set of data from Russians, too, to eliminate any confounding variables that could skew the results of the study. He did not say which set - the control or the diseased set - was collected first, and neglected to provide any further details about the study.
However, some suspect that this explanation is merely a ruse, and that the Pentagon is collecting the tissue for a much more sinister purpose, according to RT.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russian genetic material is being harvested all over the country. “Do you know that biological material is being collected all over the country, from different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical regions of the Russian Federation? The question is – why is it being done? It’s being done purposefully and professionally. We are a kind of object of great interest,” Putin told Russia’s Human Rights Council, without specifying who might be behind the activities involving Russians’ biological samples. “Let them do what they want, and we must do what we must,” he said.
The fact that Russian tissue samples specifically are on the wanted list made some wonder whether the Pentagon is working on a biological weapon to target Russians. “I’m not saying that it is about preparing a biological war against Russia. But its scenarios, are, no doubt, being worked on. That is to say, in case the need suddenly arises,” Franz Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security, wrote on Facebook. “It is also no secret that different ethnic groups react differently to biological weapons. Hence the collection of the biological material from Russians living in different geographical locations. In the west, everything is done extremely scrupulously and is verified up to the tiniest detail.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Tuesday that Russian special services are in possession of intelligence suggesting that NGOs are collecting the genetic material - intelligence that presumably prompted Putin’s initial speculation about who might be behind the collections.
“Some emissaries are really carrying out such activities, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other bodies. Such cases were registered, and security services, the president naturally have this information,” he said.
This is not the first attempt to collect samples of Russian genetic material by foreign agencies in Russia, Igor Nikulin, a former member of the UN biological weapons commission, told RT.
“Such attempts were made back in the 90s, when there was a Human Genome program, then there were various programs in the 2000s too… under different pretexts, including the most noble, but for some reason all this happens in the interests of the US military department, and this raises suspicion,” Nikulin said.
He noted that, as a rule, “samples of Europeans of the Slavic group, mostly Russians” are sought-after. “Blood samples are taken for analysis, and if an organization is foreign, what they are doing with the results is always unknown,” he said.