Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Practice Relating to Rule 75. Riot Control Agents
In 1931, during the League of Nations Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference, the USSR stated with respect to a memorandum submitted by the United Kingdom:
In 1929, the Soviet delegation proposed not only the renunciation of the use of gases in warfare, but also of their preparation in peace-time; this proposal, however, was rejected by the majority of the Commission.
We interpret this paragraph [of the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol] to mean that the use of all gases, including irritant gases, is prohibited.
As regards the text proposed by the French delegation [according to which “the use of lachrymatory gases is covered by the prohibition arising out of the Geneva Protocol of 1925” and “the fact that, for the maintenance of internal order, the police, when dealing with offenders against the law, sometimes use various appliances discharging irritant gases cannot … be adduced in a discussion on this point, since the Protocol … relates only to the use of poisonous or similar gases in war
”, (emphasis in original)], the Soviet delegation is of [the] opinion that it is not for the Preparatory Commission to legalise the use of these gases by police forces, and it accordingly regards as unacceptable, particularly as one speaker referred to the use of gases by police forces for the purpose of controlling mobs.
In 1970, in the context of the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 2444 (XXIII), the USSR stated:
The use of … tear gases and other gases of a similar nature … was prohibited by the Geneva Protocol of 17 June 1925. The United States signed that Protocol, but did not ratify it. However, that does not mean that the prohibition of the use of poisonous substances does not extend to the United States. That prohibition has become a generally recognized rule of international law, and countries which violate it must bear responsibility before the international community.
In 1989, the Moscow daily newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya published an interview with the USSR’s Deputy Chief Military Prosecutor who was supervising a criminal investigation into the behaviour of Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and army troops during their suppression of a demonstration in Tbilisi in April 1988. The Prosecutor stated:
Special “cheremukha” (27 units) containing chloracetophenone and three units of K-51 containing CS were employed. They are not chemical weapons. In the US and other countries CS is ranked among the so-called “police gases”. Let me also note that a USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium decree of 28 July 1988 makes provision for the use of special means … The arguments set out were confirmed by UN experts. Experts confirmed that only 30 people had been poisoned in connection with the troops’ use of the special means “cheremukha” and K-51. Experts are continuing their studies … Nor do the claims that the troops allegedly used chloropicrin correspond with reality. Neither the Soviet Army nor the MVD internal troops have products containing chloropicrin designed for such purposes.