The Soviet Union was one of two superpowers of the world. In order to preserve their position they were dead set on developing new technology and biomedical practices. To do this, they would need to constantly seek to improve their understanding of science. And they were into science big time. Soviet scientists were notorious for their ruthless human and animal experimentation. But much of their experiments were of a completely different nature. They could be purely technological, relating to military capability or space travel. Space travel was the big one, with America competing with the Russians to put the first man on the moon. Ultimately, the Americans won – but the Soviets put the first human and the first animal in space. All this grew from the various experiments done by their scientists. Here are my top 10 most shocking Soviet experiments.


Flying Tanks


Sometimes Soviet experiments seem to have come straight from the minds of children. This is one of those. So one day, a Soviet scientist came up with the brilliant idea of flying tanks. Literally attaching wings onto a military tank. It’s the ultimate war machine! The Soviets made several attempts to create a flying tank but none of which were successful. It turns out flying tanks are just a dreadful idea. They swiftly realised it would never work, but it was one of the main Soviet experiments of the second world war. During the same period, the Japanese and British governments also attempted to create a flying tank – but they also failed. It was a different era.


Underwater Cities


The Ichthyander Project was the first of many soviet experiments into creating underwater spaces where humans could live for long periods of time. The first part of the experiment took place in 1966, and it was a complete success. A man lived underwater for 3 days inside a small metal habitat. Inspired by this, they decided to take it further. In the second attempt, they were underwater for two whole weeks. Further experiments attempted to create underwater habitats for scientific research – and some even wanted to create an underwater Soviet city. The underwater city never materialised, and was just a wild dream. As far as we know anyway.


Man-Monkey Hybrids


Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was a real-life mad scientist. His ultimate goal was to create a hybrid cross between humans and apes. Some say the Soviets wanted him to create them an entire army of monkey-man soldiers. It is unknown whether this is true though. The vast majority of Soviet experiments into creating these hybrids involved artificial insemination. It was during the 1920s that these experiments were at their peak. Ivanov used human sperm on female apes. All of his experiments failed, of course. It was only a matter of time until the Soviet officials realised he was completely out of his mind. So in 1930, he was arrested and exiled.


Space Dogs


The Soviet Union was America’s only major rival in the space race. Both sides wanted to reach the moon first. Both sides wanted to explore the possibility of space-weapons. In order to do any of this, they would first need the ability to survive space flight. Rather than just sending humans to space, they sent dogs. Space dogs became celebrities in Russia during the 1950s and 60s. It is thought that Soviet experiments involved sending over 50 into space during this period. Most of the dogs survived and were well taken care of. However, the first dog to be sent into space did die. And they didn’t expect anything different from her. She was just a stray dog who was found in Moscow. So they sent her into space.


The 2-Headed Dog

Like so many of the men behind Soviet experiments, Vladimir Demikhov was bloody insane. He performed a series of organ transplants from one animal to another animal. Some were successful, other were not. He is now notorious for his experiments involving head transplants. He genuinely attempted to take the head from one dog, and attach it onto another dog. The desired outcome was to have a 2-headed dog. The experiment was actually a success. And the outcome was caught on video – which you can see above. The new hybrid dog didn’t survive very long. But this experiment paved the way the head transplants of other animals. Perhaps Vladimir Demikhov’s true legacy is the modern plans to perform head-transplants on humans.


The Poison Lab


The secret police of the Soviet Union was notorious for it’s use of poison. And growing from this, they were also notorious for their poison facility. Known as ‘The Chamber’, it was the place you would never want to be taken. Because, here, you would be brutally experimented on. Prisoners would have all kinds of deadly toxins given to them with the goal of finding the perfect poison. They wanted a poison that was undetectable and untraceable, so that they could guarantee death and get away with it. The only way to find this type of poison was for them to test it out on different humans. And so they did so, regularly. This really was to be expected in a list of Soviet experiments.


Space Monkeys


Just like dogs, some Soviet experiments involved sending monkeys and apes into space. I guess because monkeys are more similar to humans than most other animals. But it weird because they continued launching monkeys into space even after they knew how to do it with humans. Most of the Soviet space monkeys were sent up there during the 1980s. One of the moneys who spent time in space was given to Fidel Castro as a gift. That monkey did more with it’s life than most humans do! Luckily, most of the poor things were put under heavy painkillers while in space. A few other countries have also sent monkeys into orbit, with Iran still doing it in 2013.




Lysenkoism was basically a pseudoscientific movement of maniacs. They followed the teachings of Trofim Lysenko, who was out of his mind. He was an adamant opponent to the field of biology for some reason. He just hated traditional biologists. He somehow gained the favour of Joseph Stalin, who was another maniac. The two of them joined forces to kill a whole load of biologists. Basically any scientist who objected to Lysenkoism was in big trouble… which was most scientists at the time. So they made it illegal for scientists to disagree with him. He was soon made director of the institute of genetics; in holding that position, his movement was one of the most disastrous Soviet experiments.


Experiments in the Revival of Organisms

In 1940, a bizarre experiment was recorded on video. The film is about 20 minutes long and it shows an attempt to bring a dead dog back to life. It shows the severed head of a dead dog connected to a machine. An artificial heart is part of the machine, pumping blood back into the dogs head. The bizarre thing is that it seems to have worked!! You can watch the experiment in the video above.


Russian Sleep Experiment


The Russian sleep experiment is an urban legend that some Soviet experiments involved sleep deprivation. These experiments caused the test subjects to transform into crazed monsters. Luckily, this never happened. The Russian sleep experiment is a complete myth… as far as we can tell anyway.

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