Scandalous statements of ex-Minister of State Security of Georgia Igor Giorgadze on the experiments on living people in Tbilisi’s Lugar biological laboratory aroused great resonance in Georgia and abroad.
A former high-ranking official of Georgia assures that he has documents confirming the assumptions about the development of biological weapons in the Lugar Center near Tbilisi, built with the support of the United States.
What does all of this mean? In an interview Giorgadze gave a detailed account of the activities of the biological laboratory and the risks associated with it.
The statement quickly became the scandal of the week: one hundred thousand pages of compromising material on the Tbilisi biolaboratory. Could it be the return of the Third Reich nightamares, now in Georgia.
Igor Giorgadze told more about the creation of a laboratory where, according to his information, the Americans were developing microbiological weapons. Who was it created for and why?
– The laboratory, – as the ex-monister said, – had been created since 2004. And the official opening took place in 2011. It was opened by representatives of the Georgian leadership and the Deputy Minister of Defense of the United States. Laboratories of this nature are usually created under the auspices of the Agency for the Reduction of Military Threat (Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Office of the US Department of Defense for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction). It is a structural unit of the US Department of Defense. From the very beginning, various rumors, talks, and investigations of the local order were circulating around the creation of this laboratory, its opening and activities. It caused anxiety among those who lived and lives next to it. The laboratory is located on the territory of the former Russian military base, 17 kilometers from Tbilisi, in the village, which was called Alekseyevka.
That is, it has nothing to do with an ordinary hospital and a medical center?
No. It was not created as a medical institution. The stated goal was to reduce the consequences of possible bacteriological attacks for the population of Georgia.
Interesting, the attack from where? Lugar laboratory should worry Georgia no less than Russia >>
Probably, there were epidemics and so on. The first to sound the alarm about the fact that the laboratory is not doing well, and it does not work legally or absolutely illegally, was Geoffrey Silverman, a former US citizen (then he took Georgian citizenship). He was an adviser to President Saakashvili. He said that he had some materials – he carried out some investigations – and that in the laboratory of Lugar there almost a bacteriological weapon created and there are experiments on human material.
No documents have been submitted that would confirm the results of Silverman’s investigation. Everything, including myself, said Giorgadze, was treated to these, so to speak, sensational statements from the point of view … Of course, anxiety, controversy. Of course, anxiety. But the lack of documents did not give grounds for any serious statements.
And just a few days ago friends f Giorgadze, compatriots, brought him the documents. And the initial study of which gives reason to believe that in the laboratory, perhaps, experiments are really being conducted on the inhabitants of Georgia.
– Why do I say “maybe”? – said ex-minister. – Because on the basis of those materials that we now have in our hands, we can not make unequivocal conclusions.
Firstly, I am not an expert in the field of medicine, biological and bacteriological weapons. My profession is intelligence and counterintelligence. By education I am a lawyer with knowledge of foreign languages. And as a lawyer, and as a leader, a former head of the special service, I have no right to indiscriminately, without facts on my hands, to say that this is happening in Georgia – crimes are committed and so on.
Zakharova from Russian Foreign Ministry asked if the activity of Lugar’s laboratory could disturb anyone in Georgia?
– But, on the other hand, – said Giorgadze – I assure you, it is not necessary to be neither a lawyer, nor a head of the special services, nor a politician, nor a leader of a public organization that I am, in order to feel anxiety, concern after the initial study of these documents. There is a desire to attract experts: understand what is happening there. Why? The first thing that catches your eye: if you look at the results, including those with the participation of experts from Lugar’s laboratory, there is a tendency to improve the treatment of hepatitis C in Georgia. This is unambiguous. But against this background, strange things happen, which, by the way, are seen from documents.
Once again Giorgadze said that there are a lot of documents. Presumably, about 100 thousand sheets, maybe a little more. He looked at the data for 2015 and 2016 from the summer. Not all data. December 2015 – 30 deaths. This is from the documents he received from the laboratory of Lugar.
30 deaths, and 24 of them happened in one day. And, which causes the greatest surprise, the column “Cause of death” shows “Unknown.”
- Really so many deaths in one day did not cause a resonance in society? Either these people were from different parts of Georgia, or … – Giorgadze continued.
- In the documents we do not see the names and names of these people. They go through the numbers in the laboratory. I do not blame anyone, because there is a medical secret. But in these documents we see the date and year of birth, sex and date of death. This is if you want to study these documents and we can go out to the people who died. And then, you know, there really are a lot of patients. Appealed, everyone received treatment. And in different parts of Georgia. Even if he is in Tbilisi, teh capital, then he has neither neighbors, nor relatives. 24 people – and one day. This is evident in the documents. And in life, it is possible, it went like the ordinary death of a person who was treated, but not cured.
- That is, maybe it’s not even citizens of Georgia, it’s unclear where these people came from …
- – Numbers. Just numbers. And nothing else. But the fact that they are people …
- From these documents it is clear that the main drug that was treated was “Sowaldi”. There were other drugs. This is a legal product. By the way, it is used in Russia. But, when you look, that in one day there are so many deaths, but it does not become a resonance of some kind and there is no research. Overdose. Or maybe an experiment? Or maybe something else? We do not know. This is 2015, December. Lugar Laboratory.
- In 2016, in April and August. In April — there were 30 deaths, in August – 13. Also, the majority of the causes is unknown. It stirred. And if you are just a person, not without a soul, not without a heart, if you are not a cold-blooded cynic, then you can not keep these documents in hand and do not ask experts, do not draw their attention, do not go anywhere, say, let’s study. pricked up.
- – People already ask if the outbreak of influenza in Armenia is connected with the Lugar laboratory ? – continues the minister.
The specialists of this laboratory caused some patents of military biological nature. These are US patents, they are registered there. And, when you look at what the specialists of Lugar’s laboratory were interested in, you can not fail to compare the facts … This, I say again, is on the website of Lugar’s laboratory. A patent for an unmanned aerial vehicle for spraying infected insects. The annotation says that this aircraft is designed to spray the infected insects over the territory occupied by the enemy, to inflict a fatal blow at a minimal cost. Farther. A patent for a cartridge, that is, a munition, with a biologically contaminated material. And on the next page you see a gun, from which this cartridge can be released. And the goal: “Conducting acts of sabotage.” It’s written right there and you can see it.
It’s been several days since the statement of Giorgadze. Let’s sum up the subtotal. What has happened since he made the announcement?
– I and my friends go out to specialists of a very complex profile. These are not journalists, with whom you can go through the chain to the right journalist, say, a military man, and so on. This is a very narrow specialization, and we need competent sepcialist. And I want it to be not biased experts, selected by some principle: here, for example, I made a statement in Russia, and let’s ask Russian specialists. I want them to be specialists of international level from different countries and regions. Because, really, these materials need to be studied. To date, we do not have a pool formed that would study it. Maybe we will have to follow the way of sending these materials. But the volume is very large, you understand. We have now opened a website called “Georgia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” and upload materials that are provided to me so that they are publicly available.
- – I want this story for a wide audience, the most important thing.s should sound — contunued the ex-minister.
- – I do not want sensations, I do not want “revelations.” First, there is not enough material for this. I have no purpose to put someone to the wall for the execution, nail the board of shame and so on. Secondly, I, like a former intelligence officer (although there are no former guys here) and a lawyer, I admit (I am obliged to do this) that at the end from which we received these documents, various options are possible. Those who have brought me the documents are the people I trust completely. They are tested for years. They are honest people who really have a heartache for Georgia. But I, first, had no moral right and would not have allowed myself to dug out how they received the documents, where from and so on. They said they trust the source. And will I disclose their identity? Naturally not. It would be, firstly, unprofessional for me, and secondly, unethical. I have no such authority. This is a closed topic.
Giorgadze welcomed everyone, any country that will help the people of Georgia in preserving health and fighting diseases. But when you have documents that suggest that at least something is going wrong, you, as a person, as a citizen of your country, can not remain silent.
- And even if there is a possibility that this is a disinformation, pursuing the goals of some third people, you still could not help paying attention to it, yes? All the same, yes.
- And what goal could they pursued then, if it is just a lie? Again, to quarrel Georgia with Russia? No, it’s not even about Georgia and Russia. It can be internal political interest. Elections, struggle. Never mind. We can fantasize 400 options, and in life – 401-th. And to get to know this is not my goal. My goal is to involve the expert community at the international level, to look, to look. If there is something illegal, then suspend, stop, close. If there is no unlawful one, gentlemen, I am ready to apologize. And, probably, those who brought these documents will come to the scene and they will say: “Excuse me, we were let down.” The director of the center has already expressed her opinion. It seems she said: “Dirty politics”.
- Giorgadze however says that this is not the politics. This is a humanitarian sphere. He is not a politician now. He does not participate in elections, his party does not participate in elections. For him, this is not a PR. For him it’s a bell — to pay attention. That’s why he turned to US President Donald Trump .
- – I asked to initiate an investigation into the legality of the actions of those who work in the Lugar laboratory and carry out the assignments of the previous US administration by agreement with the previous president of Georgia, – continues ex-minister.
- Do I think there will be any response from them? You know, firstly, this appeal has not yet come. We translate it. By the way, I want to address to the congressmen, that it was not some kind of complaint, slander and so on. And we do not turn to say: “See, Congressmen, that you are bad.” On the contrary: “Gentlemen, Congressmen, pay attention to us, look what is there.” “Investigate the investigation.”
Could it be true that there are experiments on living people? We know that in the history of the United States there have been cases when banned experiments were conducted. Years passed, materials were declassified and made public. This was done by the United States itself. They apologized. Americans remember President Clinton’s apology in 1997 (for studies of syphilis in the city of Tuskegee, USA, in 1932-1972, which were conducted on African Americans).
In 2010, the United States Department of Defense apologized for illegal experiments, including over its citizens (the US government apologized for researching syphilis in humans.)
- – I want to pay attention and say: “Gentlemen, do we not deal with such moments?” And I would not like to see that in 10, 20, 30 years my fellow citizens, my compatriots read the materials declassified by the US government, and they would be apologized, which, you know, like a dead poultice.
- I absolutely do not want to quarrel some states, – Giorgadze continues. – There are no such tasks. This is a humanitarian task. The population of Georgia is dramatically reduced. And after the opening of the laboratory, the indicators of a variety of illnesses jumped massively. By the way, especially for some reason in recent years tehre was a dramatic rise of oncology. Even people say this. And very often there are brain tumors, including those in children. About this we receive signals even from Turkish doctors – in Turkey, we go for treatment. Someone collects money, someone helps. They come there, they are treated. And the Turks tell us: “What’s happening to you, why such an outbreak? We have a lot of Georgians come to be treated for oncology.” We in Georgia in the press published interviews with people who live near the laboratory. People complain, they say: “Pay attention to us.” Headaches, nausea, syndromes, some smells and so on. I do not exclude that when a person knows that there is some kind of laboratory there is a self-suggestion. Let’s figure it out. I do not rule out any options . If everything is really so, if the worst scenario takes place, then why did tey choose Georgia? The worst scenario is not directed against Georgia. When they say that the United States is a non-legal state, I do not agree. They are in their very very closely monitor the implementation of the law. And we remember a big resonant throw-in about closed prisons … secret prisons in the territories of other states. Remember? Yes, of course. Why? Because what happens there, you can not do in the US. You can not behave this way with prisoners. And this is such an outlet for narrow
polls, the content of prisoners and so on. This is a narrow specialization. They understand that this is unacceptable in the United States. Probably, and here is such a variant. Because it is impossible to conduct such a thing on the territory of the USA – it’s forbidden by conventions.
- It turns out that the Americans in Georgia do everything they want, – the ex-ministere tells.
You know, Americans in Georgia are the subject of a separate program. And I would not like to get involved in this topic. I want to hear why specialists who, according to stated goals, should protect citizens of my homeland from infections, deaths, diseases, on the biopatron site? What for on a site the patent for a hollow cartridge which can be filled with a virus of any strain and to use it, as there is written in the explanation, on territory of the opponent? Or a patent for an aircraft that can spray chemical and bacteriological weapons? I do not understand this. It’s unclear to me.
Ministries of Russia will study scandalous data about Lugar’s laboratory in Georgia also. And I would like, first, to investigate what happened to my fellow citizens. Maybe these are not fellow citizens, maybe they were brought from somewhere. Maybe. Let’s study. How do 30 people die in one month, 24 in one day – and the reason is not established? Where are they? Burned them, buried?
Are they infected? What is it? Any secondary effect of what happened? Will they say the place of their burial or not? Not one of me has a heartache for what is happening on the territory of Georgia.
- Who else but I will sign this appeal? After it is signed, I will show, because I can declare. I, for example, am asking for assistance, access to the territory of Georgia for people who can help the investigation. I say: “Gentlemen, come there, ask questions.” They say: “We ask – they do not answer us.” How will I force from here? People go round sharp corners, afraid to get into some unpleasant situations.
By the way, Jeffrey Silverman, who first voiced this topic, several times got into unpleasant situations, once he was simply beaten . He had already been a citizen of Georgia. In the early 1990s he received the citizenship of Georgia. There are people who are ready to talk about this. And there are those who refrain from some of their considerations.
After teh sensational statement there were already different political talk shows. All this was discussed. The former chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko believes that this laboratory, more precisely the laboratory complex in Georgia, is working against Russia.
Gennady Onishchenko is a Russian citizen. He must take care of it, and that’s right.
- I am a citizen of Georgia, – continues the ex-minister Giorgadze. – Many confuse me, they think that I have the citizenship of some other country, Russia. I am a citizen of Georgia, and I have a Georgian passport. I am in Russia, by the way, in refugee status. Is this dangerous for Russia? Experts will say. But I, as an intelligence officer, know that any laboratory in a neighboring state, located close to the border, can certainly carry some kind of threat. But then again we have the documents, let’s study them, see if it carries a threat or not. By the way, specialists, my relatives, studied these documents with me, as they say, in hot pursuit. One of them is a medic. He looked and said: “This person could not be treated with this kind of treatment, but he was followed.”
So let’s say, without taking into account their opinion. Here are these documents. In all international documents permitting experiments with new types of drugs over people, it is stipulated that the patient can leave the experiment at any time. He says: “Enough, I do not want to experiment further”. And even if the doctors tell him that it can not be stopped, that it can end lethaly, he has the right to say: “I do not want anymore.” From the documents it is seen that the opinion of some patients who underwent these courses of treatment was not taken into account. What else do You need to call it the lethal experiment on human material?
There is a set of, let’s say, hints that everything is not so easy in the laboratory of Lugar. In May 2013, if I am not mistaken, by the order of the Georgian government, the Richard Lugar Center was closed and all property transferred to the Sakvarelidze Center for Disease Control and Public Health at the Ministry of Health of Georgia.
Giorgadze was asked if the laboratory really was controlled by the Georgian side?
– Thank you for asking this question, – he said. – This is inaccurate information. But one thing is certain: as soon as the current government came to power, first of all, I emphasize, one of the first steps the government concluded was an agreement with the United States to transfer this laboratory to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health of Georgia. Why? Because, while in opposition to the Saakashvili regime, those who came to power heard that the people are worried. In order to avoid further gossips and that the laboratory really began to benefit Georgia, this agreement was signed. It is stipulated until 2017. That is, the laboratory should switch to financing from the budget of Georgia. It’s a difficult situation. According to various estimates, about $ 300 million was invested in the laboratory, although initially they were talking about $ 40 million. We do not know. We have documents that talk about research and funding. But there is no total amount in these documents, that is, we do not yet see. But it does not matter, $ 40 million was spent or $ 300 million. It is important. To transfer the entire laboratory is a long process. And to date, according to the Georgian Ministry of Health, the bulk has been transferred. This year, the financing of the US should stop, the Georgian government will finance it. And control? Among the 50 laboratory employees who work there, only six are Americans, the rest are citizens of Georgia. Probably not in the position of janitors, they are there, right? Naturally. I can not assume, even theoretically, that Georgia can be governed by a government that will know that the citizens of the country are experimenting with its own citizens. So once again: let’s conduct a joint expert evaluation of the documents that we have. I do not say: “Tomorrow we land the group of experts in the laboratory of Lugar in Georgia.” No, this is not realistic.
We will stage these documents in stages, with the maximum acceleration. As soon as possible we fill the site. Let’s see. Maybe we’re raising a storm in a glass, – continues Giorgadze – or maybe we’ll uncover inhuman experiments. I want to be heard: I do not try to give it a political character. It will be done without me. I want to draw humanitarian attention to this problem. In addition, we will contact the organization “Doctors Without Borders”, in the top 100 human rights organizations. Maximum attention, a maximum of competent experts who will give us an opinion.
Giorgadze was asked if he had any connections with human rights defenders, with people who would have this topic of interest in Georgia?
– Did they became interested in this topic? Did they ask me for additional comments? No, no one asked me for additional comments. And the topic of Georgia, as far as I track the Georgian media, did not stir. But not because it does not matter. It’s not new. Now there are elections, there is not up to this question (presidential elections will be held in Georgia on October 28). Why? They have no documents on their hands. They can not rely solely on my statements. I showed some documents. And I want it to be clear: this is one hundredth of what is available. When it is filled, when it is studied, probably then the reaction will appear, and probably the questions.
With the transition of this laboratory to full control of the Ministry of Health of Georgia, is there a prospect that the laboratory will simply be closed and get rid of everyone? I think that experiments (if they were), most likely, stopped. But in the laboratory there are documents showing that contracts have been concluded for some studies. They do not concern experiments on people anymore. But they could probably be doing it. What we have on hand is until 2022. And I do not think that these contracts will be terminated if they do not carry the character that worries us. If this is not work on biological and bacteriological weapons, I think they will continue. The laboratory must fulfill obligations to the customer, in whose jurisdiction it is. But I am more than confident, at least I want to be sure that now the laboratory is completely on the content of Georgia, and if they see that it is illegal, they will find a way to resolve this issue with the US government. I can not admit another. Georgia can not substitute itself under the sanctions of international organizations that prohibit the production and testing of biological and bacteriological weapons.
- Giorgadze than said that there are no former employees of special services.
– I assure you. Yes. Over the years,I lived in eight states. Now in Russia.
Did I have any information, or do I think there are similar laboratories for the development of either chemical, biological, or bacteriological weapons in other states of the post-Soviet space? By the way, I think that you will find it in public. In the 1990s, the laboratory, analogous to Lugar in Georgia, was also in Russia. With the arrival of President Vladimir Putin, it was closed. I have such information from open sources. If I’m wrong, I beg your pardon. Take an interest. As for the post-Soviet space … It’s not a secret, it’s in the public domain. Similar laboratories exist in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. There is a Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaitandzhieva, she conducted her investigation. And there were about 22-25 laboratories of a similar nature. I read her materials. Yes. Laboratories are scattered around the world. So this is not data obtained from secret sources, and not the profile of my work. Although, when I was Georgia’s security minister, we signed an agreement with a number of states, including the US and Russia, on the exchange of information on the non-proliferation of nuclear, biological and bacteriological weapons. If one of the countries receives such information, according to such an agreement, it is obliged to exchange it. On the territory of the states where I happened to be in the time of my political exile, I did not encounter the problem of such laboratories. Basically, with your broadcast and your channel, I would ask the US president to consider the possibility of closing and terminating all programs. If the population is worried, why do something that bothers him? Moreover, if he appoints an investigation and discovers something illegal, I’m sure he will take such steps.
Again, preparing for an interview with Giorgadze, Russian journalists read the reply from the head of the Center of Richard Lugar. According to her, on November 10 they gather various experts, invite them to their laboratory to see what they are doing. One of Lugar s people was there.
This is not the first step of the Georgian side. In 2012, one of the Russian journalists was in this laboratory, he made a detailed report. After that, the Georgian side widely opened the doors of the laboratory.
- – She noted that experts from 18 countries will come. But Russia did not apply. Maybe they just did not know what would happen there? I think that the point is that, to our great regret, there are no diplomatic relations between our countries. But, I think, this is not an obstacle, if the Russian side wants, it will find an opportunity to be there. You understand, all these excursions to laboratories resemble those that your humble servant arranged for the general public. I brought them to the base, where we trained special units, showed the preparation of the airborne assault brigade of the special purpose of the Ministry of Security. Journalists came to the premises of the state security bodies. Let’s ask them, they, after visiting there, found out who the agents are? Did they find out what activities we planned and conducted? Did they learn about the materials we extracted and received from foreign sources? It’s about the same. As in that anecdote: this is not tourism, this is emigration. But if they are sure that nothing is happening there, then I’m just glad. But let’s take a look at the documents that we have. Perhaps there will be something there that will lead to the idea that anxiety is not groundless. This is the main thing, you understand. Therefore, I emphasize again and again that this is a purely humanitarian field. If there are experiments going on, let’s stop them. But if they do happen, then we must bring to justice those whose actions led to death. It is impossible so: to stop – and all, have closed. This should be studied, investigated, investigated. Deepen into the problem.
A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that Moscow will ask the US for an official explanation in connection with the statement of former Georgian Security Minister Igor Giorgadze about the development of biological weapons in the Lugar Center near Tbilisi. Is there really no concern in Georgia about the activities of Lugar’s laboratory?
– Under the guise of this, at first glance, a civil institution formally part of the system of the Ministry of Health of Georgia, the Medical Research Department of the US Army has been registered. The US military is engaged in the study of especially dangerous diseases, not only for Georgia, but also for neighboring countries, including the Russian Federation. It is for these reasons that this topic can not but bother us, – Zakharova said at a briefing in Moscow.
According to her, such interest of the Pentagon towards Georgia can not be explained solely by humanitarian considerations. Such humanitarian interests, as a rule, do not end with anything constructive and lead to “dangerous games with unpredictable results, – the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
– In Russia, we have repeatedly expressed concern about the intensification of medical and biological activities of the US and other NATO military departments along the perimeter of Russian borders, I honestly want to say that it bothers us: Russian state structures, Russian citizens. After all, these laboratories are in the territory of their sovereign state, what are they doing, and what can it lead to? – Zakharova said.
In this regard, Russia’s foreign policy department will ask the American side for an official explanation of the laboratory’s activities in Georgia, – she added.
Moscow awaits US explanations on the activities of the laboratory in Georgia.
The Richard Lugar biological laboratory in the environs of Tbilisi was found several times in the center of journalistic investigations. The first of them was published as early as 2015. The media claimed that the center was developing biological and bacteriological weapons, but the exposing articles were based on certain assumptions.
The Russian side has repeatedly expressed concern about the activities of the Pentagon «in placing their biomedical laboratories in close proximity to Russian borders». In 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned in this connection the so-called «R. Lugar Research Center for Public Health» in the suburbs of Tbilisi, under the roof of which the medical research division of the US Army was firmly “registered”.
Moscow believes that the US and Georgian authorities are trying to hide the true content and direction of the military unit of the US Army, which studies especially dangerous infectious diseases. The Georgian side considers the fears in vain and declares that the laboratory is engaged exclusively in scientific research. However the number of people who are aware of the danger is still growing every day.