Suspicion of the activities of the Lugar laboratory in Georgia will only increase, - expert

Sat, 02/05/2020 - 09:33

The Georgian authorities are concerned about the denial of accusations against the Lugar laboratory, built with American money and serving primarily Pentagon contractors, and are trying to defend the laboratory’s image, said Yuri Vazagov, a member of the expert council at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Ossetia, during a briefing.

According to Vazagov, Georgian and Western media launched a public relations campaign in order to improve the image of the laboratory, trying to present it as the main component in the Georgian healthcare system, which allegedly proved to be effective in combating coronavirus.

“Trying to convince their own population of the need for the continued existence of the laboratory and related facilities, the Georgian authorities thus evade the uncomfortable issues that inevitably arise among the public in Georgia and other countries,” the expert says.

According to Vazagov, given the version of the possible artificial origin of COVID-19, suspicions of the activities of such laboratories will only increase.

“Suffice it to say that in 2014 in the center of Lugar they were engaged in experiments on bats, and in the study of the possibility of transmitting their viruses to humans. This is according to the data that became known to the public. Despite the formal transfer of the facility to the Ministry of Health of Georgia, to this day, more than a third of the development is carried out in the interests of the US military, including the study of methods for delivering infected insects, using drones, the work on strains of measles and other diseases, ”said Vazagov.

At the same time, the main Georgian fighters against coronavirus - Amiran Gamkrelidze and Paata Imnadze, Vazagov notes, are also heads of the Lugar laboratory, which for some time has been camouflaged under the guise of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia.

At the end of January, according to the expert, they assured the residents of Georgia that there were no reasons for panic due to the possible spread of coronavirus, and that there was no need to close the borders due to the lack of real risk. But then, he notes, Gamkrelidze and Imnadze hastily become the heads of the headquarters for the fight against coronavirus and assist the authorities in distorting statistics, while not forgetting to emphasize the role of the Lugar laboratory.

These facts, the expert emphasizes, are for some reason concerned about the Georgian media less than the health issues of South Ossetia, noting that these issues immediately become the subject of close attention from the Georgian media, politicians and public figures.

The current activation of Georgia in the South Ossetian direction, according to the expert, has several reasons.

“The first of these is the development of an external order from the United States and Western international organizations, which are interested in undermining Russia's positions in the South Caucasus region. In this aspect, increased pressure on South Ossetia fits into the overall strategy of containing Russia, which emphasizes the Caucasus-Black Sea region,” said Vazagov.

According to him, judging by the latest statements by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and his special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, the Alliance intends to strengthen its presence in the region in the coming years, despite the pandemic. “The main goal is the counteraction of the Russian Federation. Georgia and Ukraine play the role of bridgeheads and strong points,” he notes.

According to the expert, Georgia actively joined the implementation of this strategy in the person of the Georgian Dream government, clearly following the interests of the United States in foreign policy, including in cases where Georgia’s national interests are harmed and its security threatened.

“This circumstance, in particular, explains the fact that the leading role in the current information campaign against South Ossetia and Russia is played by the media and organizations affiliated with the US Embassy, ​​USAID and other Western structures. Examples include Radio Liberty with its projects, the Free Russia Foundation in the South Caucasus, and a host of other media resources and NGOs. Apparently, their activities will only increase, given the keen interest of the United States in the situation in the region,” said Vazagov.

The second reason for the intensification of Georgia’s policy towards South Ossetia, Vazagov called the desire to once again use the South Ossetian issue as a lightning rod, thereby distracting the attention of his own population from acute problems in the economy, domestic political and international contradictions, aggravated in a pandemic.

“The current Georgian authorities, despite large-scale support from the Western countries and international organizations, have shown complete inability to cope with the crisis and have not been able to establish social support for the population,” he said.

Richard Lugar is a well-known American politician who was most active during the presidency of Kennedy and Bush Jr. Together with his colleague Senator Nunn, he developed a program for the elimination of nuclear weapons in the territory of the former Soviet Union.

In 2011, Lugar opened a research center in Georgia, which in the early years was funded exclusively by American taxpayers. An agreement to establish such a center has existed since 2004. The opening of the center was the next step after the "restoration" of the Georgian armed forces after the defeat in 2008.

Then they spent a billion dollars on the Georgian military and later another 100 million dollars on various technologies. In two years, about 300 million dollars passed through the center; from the Georgian side, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was in charge of general management. The head of the laboratory became the former chief of military intelligence, Anna Zhvania.

In 2013, the center was solemnly transferred under the jurisdiction of Georgia, the United States officially ceased to finance the enterprise, but senior officials continued to visit the laboratory.

In 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry suspected the United States of testing biological weapons in Georgia. According to the chief of the troops of radiation, chemical and biological defense of the Russian Armed Forces Igor Kirillov, the substance was tested in the American Public Health Research Center named after Richard Lugar in Georgia, which killed 73 people. The information was presented by the ex-Minister of the State Security of Georgia Igor Giorgadze. According to him, the laboratory tested the drug Sovaldi of the American company Gilead Science.

In connection with the pandemic of coronavirus, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that American laboratories located outside the United States could develop deadly pathogens.

According to her, the United States is trying to strengthen its biological presence outside the United States, in particular in the former Soviet republics.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, American representatives took the initiative to expand the range of studies at the Richard Lugar American-Georgian Public Health Center in a suburb of Tbilisi.

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