A Russian design engineer at a top-secret defence plant poisoned his colleagues because he didn’t get promoted. Talented Vladislav Shulga, 37, who is referred to as a “brilliant” engineer and an “engineer sent by God”, was passed over for promotion, so he spiked the drinking water of his boss with thallium – used in Soviet times and known as Saddam Hussein’s “poison of choice”.
The twisted act of revenge caused dozens of his colleagues to suffer hair loss and chronic sickness. His boss who the poison was intended for escaped almost unharmed, while his deputy is virtually paralysed from the horrific act.
According to local media, Russian authorities initially sought to cover-up the poisoning incident. However, two months later Shulga used thallium again to try to kill a lawyer.
Shulga reportedly fled the scene when his car was involved in a crash with a lawyer at his defence plant in Taganrog. The lawyer Sagil Makhmudov, 25, reported him to police and Shulga tried to kill him with thallium. Shulga’s aim was that the lawyer “would get poisoned”, but he missed his target again and others were left suffering long term sickness as a result.
The defence plant poisoning in Taganrog remained hidden for months amid a succession of official denials. But desperate employees at the defence plant, Beriev Aircraft Scientific and Technical Complex, went public last month to force the authorities to take their concerns seriously that they were victims of thallium – and find the poisoner.
One woman called Inna Aleinikova in the legal department showed on a video how she was going bald after succumbing to the horrific poisoning.
“This is my hair – all that’s now left now,” she said. “It is as if your body has lost all its skin – you can’t touch it.”
Aircraft designer Konstantin Kolesnikov, who is the deputy to Shulga’s boss, became ill in November, and was diagnosed with thallium in his blood, about 150 times too high. In hospital after heart failure and acute stomach pains, he suffered clinical death but was reanimated by medics. At the moment, he cannot walk, and has lost his eyesight and hair.
30 people suffered from Shulga’s attacks. But Shulga took an antidote for thallium and continued working normally.
After police investigated the poisonings, he finally confessed, and faces up to five years in jail at his upcoming trial.
He said: “I saw that my colleagues poisoned two months earlier did not die, and are still alive. So I made a smaller dose and added thallium to the water in the legal department.”
Some suspect Shulga put poison in the air conditoning as well as the water.
Watch video of his colleague in the hospital.