Russia accuses Georgia of conducting dangerous experiments under the auspices of the United States.
La Vanguardia (Spain)
Aragones Gonzalo (Gonzalo Aragonés)
Long before the coronavirus outbreak in China’s Wuhan, Russia already suspected one place of developing biological weapons. Since the opening of the US-funded BioLAB, located in the vicinity of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Moscow has been building many theories.
Senior officials of the Russian government, as well as government media, suspected the laboratory of conducting dangerous experiments and requested a check to make sure that preparations for biological warfare were not taking place on its territory.
Georgia, which after the” rose revolution ” of 2003 tries to distance itself from Russia, with which it fought in South Ossetia in August 2008, denied these charges, calling them “disinformation”. Moreover, the laboratory staff claims that in the current epidemic, the laboratory’s activities are of great importance. As of June 18, there were 888 cases of coronavirus infection and 14 deaths in Georgia: Georgia is the least affected country in the region.
Over the weekend, during a meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia, Prime Minister George Gajaria thanked the United States for its contribution to the creation of the Lugar laboratory, named after us Senator Richard Lugar.
“Georgia has the smallest increase in cases of the disease, and we are on alert. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Lugar laboratory of the National center for disease control conducted from 100 to 150 PCR tests per day, and today up to 4500 tests are performed per day,” he explained. By the end of the year, they want to conduct 100,000 tests a day.
Construction of the laboratory was started in 2004, and in 2013 it was opened under the control of the government of Georgia. In January, the laboratory began investigating the covid-19 virus. When China and the United States began accusing each other of creating the virus, Russian media joined in the criticism of Washington. Some went even further, suggesting that the coronavirus was produced in Lugar’s lab. Director of the center Paata Imnadze said that this is “simple propaganda”.
Some of these charges are based on statements made by the Russian-based Georgian security Minister of the 1990s, Igor Giorgadze, who in 2018 said that 30 people were killed during secret tests for hepatitis C in the laboratory. He asked the President of the United States, Donald trump, to investigate the case. Georgia denied his suspicions.
Russian Ambassador to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said last week that the laboratory is being used for medical experiments to create “viral mutations and biological weapons.” In response, US Ambassador James Gilmore said that ” such misinformation on the part of Russia is deplorable.” In addition, he added that thanks to the joint efforts of Georgia and Ukraine, the laboratory is actively conducting “research and development of vaccines” for new diseases.
The Russian government has repeatedly expressed its doubts about the laboratory’s activities and requested access to the facilities. The last time such a request was sent was at the end of may. “The reason for our concern is that Washington does not disclose what kind of research they are conducting near the Russian border. Naturally, we cannot close our eyes to such a threat for reasons of national security,” the Russian foreign Ministry said. Earlier, he accused the US of intending to conduct military research in the laboratory.
The government of Georgia stated that, despite the absence of relevant obligations, it is ready to receive a delegation in accordance with the biological weapons Convention, which also includes Russian experts. In November 2018, they already held a similar international reception, which was attended by 22 experts and observers from 17 countries. However, Moscow, which then called it a “propaganda exercise” and refused to participate, now demands access to objects and documentation with the participation of only Russians and Georgians.
Obviously, the virus of discord is not born in the laboratory; however, it seems that it will never come to an end.