The Most Wanted Man in the World

Look at him. I mean, really look hard. Look at those eyes, those dark eyebrows, the Lenin-like goatee, the cruel stare. Is this how Amalek would dress for work in modern times—a monster wearing a wrinkled suit, a standard white shirt and a mundane tie? He is the very personification of what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.” She used that expression for Adolf Eichmann, but this man could be the new Eichmann. Will this new bogeyman come again in the night to slaughter Jews? Yes, but he will do worse. Much worse. He can kill everyone in his path.

In December 2016, he walked away from his government job and melted into the vast wilderness of Siberia. Someday soon he will end his isolation and emerge somewhere to prey again upon the human race. He will try to disguise himself as one of us, but only his face is human. He has the eyes of a wolf. Nearly three years have passed since he vanished into the forests of Siberia, waiting for the time when he can become a predator among humans again.

A month after he took off, the Siberian Times published the first public notice of his disappearance. But the newspaper downplayed the story, making it seem as if he were just a common criminal, a corrupt bureaucrat who knew his time had come. On January 20, 2017, they reported that a professor had been accused of nickel-and-dime abuse of power—the use of government funds to buy himself a private apartment:

“The disappearance of Professor Ilya Drozdov came to light in the latest twist in long-running legal action over fraud and abuse of office during his leadership of the State Research Center…in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk, between 2005 and 2010. After quitting the institute, he returned to his native Saratov but has now vanished. He is accused by state investigators of misappropriating some two million roubles [then worth around $55,000], and his tenure also led to an outflow of staff unhappy at his management style.”

“A criminal case was filed against him in 2014, and a Novosibirsk court has now approved his arrest in absentia,” said Elena Chernyayeva, a regional deputy prosecutor. In an open letter, Pavel Korchagin, director of Prospekt, the largest construction company in Koltsovo, claimed executives were paid “exorbitant” salaries and that there were “humiliatingly low wages” for regular employees and “destruction of the most significant research areas.” Drozdov was also accused of overseeing the “bullying” of innovative companies.”

There is no indication in the reports of exactly when the arrest order was handed down, although the words “in absentia” suggest that no arrest warrant was actually issued until sometime after Professor Drozdov took off for parts unknown in December 2016. This seems a bit tardy on the part of the police since the criminal charges were filed back in 2014 for a job Drozdov had last worked at in 2010. Old news indeed.

The gist of the story seems to be that a petty bureaucrat siphoned off a small amount of money for himself and his personal friends, to the detriment of his employees. Since the state presumably got the professor’s apartment back, no money was lost and no harm was done. So who cares if the professor ran away? The whole world, as it turns out.

You see, Professor Ilya Drozdov was the head of the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, or Vector. The Vector Center, as it is called, is no ordinary research lab. It is “one of only two repositories in the world of smallpox virus, and a key hub of research into the planet’s deadliest diseases.”

The other smallpox repository is the American Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Drozdov was not new to biological warfare when he took over Vector: “Previously he headed an institute in Saratov, the Russian Scientific Research Anti-Plague Institute, providing protection against dangerous diseases like bubonic plague, anthrax and cholera.”

The Russians denied that the Vector Center was engaged in germ warfare. It just made vaccines for germ warfare: “Currently, Vector’s priority research areas comprise tablet vaccines for smallpox and hepatitis B, vaccines for HIV, edible vaccines for virus hepatitis B and HIV based on transgene plants, anti-flu vaccines, development of anti-cancer medication, and development of new methods for detecting smallpox and other viruses.”

The Siberian Times news site reassured its readers that it did not appear that the professor had taken any samples of these diseases with him. Just in case, the Russian government wanted everyone to keep an eye out: “It is now confirmed that last month the 63-year-old scientist—who needed top vetting clearance to lead Vector—was put on the Interpol wanted list, indicating fears he has gone abroad. …There is no suggestion he has taken secrets abroad, but the Interpol alert indicates the Russian authorities have lost track of his whereabouts.”


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