EXPERTS fear Russian scientists are experimenting with the deadly Ebola virus as part of a terrifying “Doomsday” chemical weapons project.
Unit 68240 of Vladimir Putin’s FSB spy agency – linked to the Salisbury Novichok attack – is believed to be behind a programme codenamed ‘Toledo.’
There are concerns the top secret unit is researching both Ebola and the even deadlier Marburg virus, reports the Mirror.
Both shocking diseases cause chronic organ failure and internal bleeding and have killed thousands across Africa.
One former military intelligence source said: “Both Russia and the UK have labs studying biological and chemical warfare to learn how to defend against weapons such as Novichok.
“But if, simultaneously, Russia is studying how to weaponise Ebola and Marburg, that has horrific possibilities.
“Moscow has repeatedly shown a willingness and capability of using weapons such as Novichok…this steps it up a level.
“It could mean Russia potentially stepping up research on Ebola and Marburg and looking at its lethality as a weapon.”
The ‘Toledo’ programme is thought to be either named after the Spanish city, hit by a deadly plague nearly 60 years ago, or Toledo in Ohio which was devastated by a flu bug in 1918.
Investigators from the non-profit OpenFacto organisation say they have learned the Russian Ministry of Defence also has a secretive science wing.
The unit, called the 48th Central Research Institute, is said to be devoted to studying “rare and lethal” pathogens.
It’s also affiliated to the 33rd Central Research Institute, which developed Novichok – used in the attacks on ex Russian spy Sergei Skripal and Putin rival Alexei Navalny.
OpenFacto states both have been sanctioned by the US for “likely conducting research for the biological weapons”.
It has also been reported the 48th Central Research Institute has been supplying data to those working at the FSB unit 68240.
Earlier this month, the UK’s Defence Secretary revealed Russia is capable of killing thousands with another chemical weapon attack on the streets of Britain.
Ben Wallace admitted Russian behaviour is “not within the norms it used to be” following a spate of activity in our waters, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Ex spy Skripal, 69, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in March 2018 in an attack which shocked the world.
Both survived, although Mr Skripal, jailed in Russia in 2006 for selling secrets to British agents, now breathes through a tube.
Later a Kremlin hit squad reportedly tried to kill Putin’s “most feared opponent” as he in lay in a coma following an earlier attempt on his life.
A second dose of poison was administered to stricken Alexei Navalny just before he was flown to Germany for life-saving treatment, it’s claimed.
The anti-corruption activist made headlines when fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August after being targeted with Novichok.
It’s believed he was initially poisoned when minute droplets of toxins were squirted on to his pants by state security agents in his hotel room.
The World Health Organisation describes the Marburg virus as a ‘highly-virulent disease’ with a 88 per cent fatality rate.
It was responsible for two major outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade in Serbia, in 1967.
It is believed to have stemmed from African green monkeys brought from Uganda for laboratory research.
The Ebola virus disease – previously called Ebola haemorrhagic fever – is a viral infection that occurs in humans and primates.
The virus is part of the Filoviridae family, which also includes Marburg virus.
It was first detected in regions close to the River Ebola, which gave the disease its name.
To date, scientists have identified five strains of Ebola – four of which are known to cause disease in humans.
Prior to the 2014 outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the death rate of the Ebola virus had been between 25 and 89 per cent.
During the later West African outbreak mortality varied soared to up to 90 per cent.