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Biological Weapons Denial

Government officials and an environmentalist Monday denied allegations published in a British newspaper that Russia is secretly developing biological weapons of mass destruction.

"As soon the order to stop the project was issued financing was cut also, and you will not find a single altruist who would continue the work for nothing," said Alexander Mikhailov, the chief spokesman for the Federal Counterintelligence Service.

The Sunday Times published an article last weekend quoting unspecified Western intelligence sources as saying they possessed evidence that Russia has developed a new powerful biological weapon in defiance of a 1972 international ban and President Boris Yeltsin's orders, the news agency Reuters said.

The statement was based on disclosures by three defectors in the United States and Britain from the Russian organization Biopreparat, which allegedly built a secret facility in Lakhta near St. Petersburg recently.

The leader of the St. Petersburg Green Party, Kiril Vasilyev, said his party investigated rumors about the Lakhta factory six months ago but found no evidence that biological weapons were being produced there.

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