General Boris Ratnikov, who served in the KGB department for Moscow and the Moscow Region, told Rossiiskaya Gazeta that people in power had resorted to various methods of manipulating individuals' thoughts since ancient times, and that it was hardly surprising that secret services adopted the practice when it acquired a scientific foundation in the 20th century.
"You can hardly imagine the warfare that broke out in this area in the first half of the last century. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that sometimes real 'astral battles' took place," Ratnikov told the daily.
In the mid-1980s, about 50 research institutes in the Soviet Union studied remote mind control techniques backed by substantial government funding but all such research efforts were halted with the demise of the Soviet empire in the early 1990s.
Ratnikov, who subsequently served as deputy head and then senior consultant at the Federal Guard Service from 1991 to 1997, said his department was in charge of safeguarding top officials in post-Soviet Russia against any external influence on their sub-conscious.
The general stated emphatically that he and his colleagues had never manipulated the minds of the then president, Boris Yeltsin, or of economic reformer Yegor Gaidar but claimed to have used mind-reading to save Russia's first president and the country from a war with China.
Yeltsin had planned to visit Japan in 1992 but Ratnikov's department detected attempts to 'program' the president's mind to make him give the Kuril Islands back to Japan. The move would have led to demands from China that it regain its disputed territories from Russia as well, a conflict that could have sparked a war between the neighbors. Yeltsin therefore had to cancel the trip.
Another of the general's revelations is that senior officials in Western Europe and the United States unwittingly provided information to his department, which was able to read their minds thanks to Soviet-era scientific achievements.
In the early 1990s, Ratnikov and his colleagues "scanned" the mind of new U.S. Ambassador Robert Strauss to see that the embassy building contained equipment to exert psychotronic influence on Moscow residents but it had been deactivated, the general told the paper.
In further comments on the psychotronic weapon, Ratnikov said that although Russia, the United States and other countries had the necessary technology, it was dangerous to use it because the operator of the weapon and even the person who gave the orders could suddenly fall gravely ill or even die.