Gennadiy N. Lepeshkin: The Sverdlovsk tragedy which took place was a very complicated tragedy. And even today, we still do not know whether there really was... an accident. Yes, maybe it did happen. But there in addition to the accident itself, it has been suggested that... acts of sabotage were also committed. And the people who got sick, they... the infection took 69 days to run its course, over two months. That is not typical of anthrax. And the strains found there, well, basically, they are different from the strains that that organization, the military detachment, was working with. There is some doubt that it was merely a one-time leak. That in addition to an isolated leak event, acts of sabotage were committed. Attacks.
Gary Crocker: What kind of an attack? I'm not sure I understand.
Slava Paperno (interpreting):
What kind of sabotage or attacks? By whom? What for?
Lepeshkin: That is... well, it hasn't been established, that kind of thing is very difficult to establish, but there were many separate sources, which caused the infection to continue.
Paperno (interpreting): There were many sources that continued to spread infection.
Crocker: Oh, OK.
Lepeshkin:Imagine that there was a one-time leak, let's say the ventilation system broke. Yes, people got sick. But a human being is a cul-de-sac. He gets sick and dies, but he can't infect someone else. It's not like the plague, which spreads and is highly contagious. In this case the infection should have died down after, let's say, ten, let's say, twelve days. There might be some vestigial skin diseases, but nothing more than that.
Lepeshkin: But in this case there was more that was spread around from other places, those cells were diffused and more people got infected.
Lepeshkin: Other people were then getting infected. So that's one theory, which would appear to fit the facts quite well.
Crocker: Right, yeah, no, I've heard all that. Because we did have information later. I mean one explanation... I've heard several explanations, but one of them is that right away they went to extreme measures: digging up the dirt, trying to sanitize the problem. That it didn't work. Because Anthrax spores can come up again, and that they didn't get rid of all of them. And that something happened that got them back into the air again. That's one of the explanations I've heard. I'm not sure we have a firm idea about that. But, you're not saying... the three doctors who came here had all this evidence of how this was a common problem in Sverdlovsk, that... the infected meat, and somebody had come in and sold all of this bad meat, etc. etc.
Lepeshkin: But there's something else I'd like to say: the medical community was unprepared to respond to this infection. That's why there were so many cases and a mass panic. It's comparable to what happened in the United States in 2001, when the [anthrax] letters were being sent out. There was the same lack of preparedness, the same panic, the same situation with all the authorities at a total loss as to what to do. It happened in our country far earlier, in your country much later. But this... everything points to the fact that a biological attack is always very complicated.