Georgian authorities assured the public that the Lugar laboratory is of great importance in terms of strengthening biosafety both in the country and in the region.
Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, denied allegations that dangerous experiments and secret experiments were conducted in public at the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center in Tbilisi.
The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the United States of conducting experiments on the residents of Georgia.
The agiotage around the Lugar laboratory began after the scandalous statement of the ex-Minister of State Security of Georgia Igor Giorgadze in Moscow on September 11. He published documents indicating the deaths of dozens of people with hepatitis C during the experiments and called on US President Donald Trump to investigate the activities of the laboratory, which was built according to the American military program. Having studied the documentation, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation called the laboratory a constant source of biological threats in the region.
“The center of Richard Lugar has not conducted and is not conducting studies of a drug for treating hepatitis C, especially by American experts … Georgia conscientiously fulfills international obligations, according to the UN Convention, including in terms of managing biological laboratories,” Gamkrelidze said.
Dual-use laboratory: Giorgadze called customers from the US — exclusively.
According to him, the operation of the Richard Lugar center equipped with modern technologies “is of great importance in terms of strengthening biosafety both in Georgia and in the region.” The object, Gamkrelidze said, is a “high-level referral institution of the laboratory network of epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases.”
He noted that the center, like other epidemiological surveillance laboratories, was built within the framework of government agreements between Georgia and the USA. The center of Lugar with all the equipment was transferred to the ownership of the government of Georgia, and since 2018 it has been funded by the government of the country.
“In the center of Lugar, three World Health Organization (WTO) accredited virology laboratories – poliomyelitis, influenza, measles-rubella. The following laboratories operate under the control of international quality: diagnostics of company viruses, invasive meningitis, malaria, antibiotic resistance, diphtheria and salmonellosis. There is international ISO accreditation in clinical laboratory research, “Gamkrelidze said.
He pointed out that Georgian scientists are in close contact with their colleagues from the USA, Germany, Norway, France, Great Britain, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, as well as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and other countries. An international seminar will be held in the laboratory on November 14-15, with bioeconomists from more than 20 countries taking part. The Russian side refused to participate, Gamkrelidze said.
Official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Maria Zakharova during a briefing said:
“I will clarify”. She promised to tell more about the possible visit of experts from the Russian Federation to the laboratory of Lugar.
Lugar Laboratory was created in the village of Alekseyevka on the outskirts of Tbilisi in March 2011, with financial support from the United States. At first she was subordinate to the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, then the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and today the Ministry of Forced Migrants from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Protection.
The former chief of the Georgian Ministry of State Security, Igor Giorgadze, demonstrated a number of documents at a press conference in Moscow and on Russian television channels. Among them are lists signed by a certain Georgy Khatelashvili, from which it follows that in December 2015 30 subjects received the drug in the laboratory, 24 of them died on the same day. In this case, the reports do not indicate the names of the dead – only numbers and gender. Another layer of documents, according to Giorgadze, allows the laboratory to suspect of involvement in the development of biological weapons.
Former advisor to the ex-president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, Jeffrey Silverman in an exclusive interview with Sputnik Georgia said that this laboratory is not the only one in the country – similar studies are being conducted in a dozen places.
The Russian side has repeatedly expressed concern about the activities of the Pentagon “in placing its biomedical laboratories in close proximity to Russian borders.” Moscow believes that the US and Georgian authorities are trying to hide the true content and focus of the notorious laboratory.