Did Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin Spy on Mao Zedong's Excrement?
story carried by the BBC
in late January 2016 reported that Joseph Stalin spied on Mao Zedong
and other world leaders by collecting and analyzing their feces.
Stalin is said to have directed his KGB henchman Lavrenti Beria to
set up a secret department tasked with surreptitiously collecting
and analyzing feces to gain insight into their targets' medical and
However, this isn't the only example of espionage via the toilet!
The U.S. and France also tried to exploit this questionable source
The Cold War contained some strange and desperate plots.
Toilet in a Moscow train station.
Toilet and shower in a Russian nursing school.
In December 1949 Mao Zedong visited Moscow.
He was kept waiting for ten days before meeting Stalin.
During this time he was fed well but confined to his guest quarters,
a house in which the toilets are said to have been disconnected from
the sewer line and connected to special collection systems.
The historian David Halberstam reported in his book
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War:
When Mao first arrived in Moscow, he announced that China looked
forward to a partnership with Russia, but he emphasized as well
that he wanted to be treated as an equal.
Instead he was being taught a lesson each day.
He had become, in Ulam's words, "as much captive as guest".
As such, he shouted at the walls, convinced that Stalin had
bugged the house: "I am here to do more than eat and shit!"
The BBC story comes from former Soviet intelligence officer Igor Atamanenko,
who says that he uncovered the project details while doing historical
research in the Russian secret service archives.
He reports that high levels of the amino acid tryptophan suggested
that the person was calm and approachable.
A low level of potassium was seen as a symptom of a nervous disposition
Not the First Story of Fecal Espionage
In a 16 September 1971 article
Eavesdrops on Kremlin Chiefs"
in the Washington Post,
the syndicated columnist Jack Anderson reported that the CIA had
retrieved and analyzed some of Nikita Krushchev's feces
during his 1959 state visit to the U.S.
The CIA medical team had concluded that Krushchev was in excellent health.
French spymaster Alexandre de Marenches told
a Time journalist that the French
Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage
had collected Leonid Brezhnev's urine.
The Soviet leader stayed at the Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen
during a state visit.
The SDECE rented the suite directly below, cut through the ceiling,
dismantled Brezhnev's toilet waste line, and sent his toilet flushings
to Paris for analysis.
In 1987 Jack Anderson reported a
story told to him by a confidential source
about a series of failed attempts by CIA and MI6
to collect Mikhail Gorbachev's feces.
Yes, the CIA has a
Medical and Psychological Analysis Center,
and intelligence agencies try to analyze the health of world leaders
and use their remote conclusion in analyses and predictions.
about the CIA MPAC.
Not the Most Reliable Source
which was picked up and repeated with great enthusiasm and only minor changes
by many news outlets, is based on a report by Igor Atamanenko in
Atamenenko is a regular source of
for that publication.
or Komsomolskaya Pravda,
literally Komsomol Truth,
is a daily Russian tabloid newspaper.
The paper was founded in 1925 as an official organ of
the Central Committee of the Komsomol.
is a typical Russian syllabic abbreviation for
"Young Communist League".
The organization is officially
the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League.
Young children went into the Little Octobrists.
When nine years old, they graduated into the Young Pioneers.
At fourteen they graduated into Komsomol,
the third, final, and longest stage, to which they belonged until 28.
The organization's official organ, Komsomolskaya Pravda,
runs stories like its January 2015 front-page claim that the U.S. had
perpetrated the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo
publishing office in Paris.
Atamanenko's contributions to Komsomolskaya Pravda
include what claims to be a surprising revelation about Stalin's
decisions in during the Great Patriotic War (also known as World War II).
But actually it's just a retelling of
the made-for-TV sequel to The Dirty Dozen.
Dear Diary — Today that old Mao Zedong was really full of it.
There are opportunities for legitimate
medical analysis of feces.
Copromancy, however, is more like fortune telling.
If there isn't a Copronomicon describing
the practice, there should be.
Ayurvedic medicine analyzes feces, as does
traditional Chinese medicine.
link stool details to purported bodily accumulations of heat, cold,
and dampness, and blame diarrhea on exogenous evils and yang deficiency.
On the Ayurvedic side,
Deepak Chopra urges you to examine your feces
for color, smell, stickiness, and other attributes.
And, of course,
his company sells various purgative cleansing treatments.
But for high-grade copromantic nonsense check out the system of copromancy
advocated by American charlatan Raymond A. Moody before he got into
In 1972 he was already talking about computers and
their potential coprological applications:
Without in any way disparaging tea-leaf reading, astrology,
palmistry, phrenology, or any of the other similar techniques,
we can say with certainty that coprology — with its modern
scientific methods of research, controlled experiments, and
computer analysis — is able to obtain much more
accurate predictions of future life trends than any other known method.
These were simple sketches, not the science embodied by the
Bristol Stool Chart.