How did Tbilisi respond to accusations against Lugar Center's alleged breeding of dangerous insects?
Moscow accuses Georgia’s Lugar Center of ‘breeding dangerous insects’
The Kremlin made another statement about the Lugar Center laboratory. The Russian message has not changed – in Tbilisi, on the instructions of the Americans, viruses and organisms dangerous to humans are being bred. This time it was said that the Center was “researching” especially dangerous insects.
Tbilisi has not officially responded to these accusations.
Instead, two years after the pandemic, the leadership of the Center for Disease Control organized a media tour for Georgian journalists to the laboratory.
The journalists examined the premises of the laboratory where researchers and scientists work. The tour was conducted by Amiran Gamkrelidze, director of the National Center for Disease Control. He explained how the laboratory works, what microbes and what safety rules scientists work with, what a pandemic would be like if it were not for the laboratory.
The tour was also attended by representatives of the Regional Office of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. After the media tour, together with Amiran Gamkrelidze, they answered the question why the existence of this laboratory is important for the region.
Among the journalists was also a representative of Alt-Info. This is the media that distributes Russian propaganda in Georgia, including about the laboratory of the Lugar Center.
The Lugar laboratory is located on the outskirts of Tbilisi, on the way to the airport. It is named after US Senator Richard Lugar. Its official name is the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center.
The laboratory is funded by the US Department of Defense. And, as Amiran Gamkrelidze says, this is one of the best examples of the help of American people. The Lugar laboratory is developed in this region and its existence is important not only for Georgia, but also for neighboring countries.
Amiran Gamkrelidze says that is why the Center is often targeted by Russia. The Kremlin, according to Gamkrelidze, is concerned that Georgia itself has such a high-level scientific laboratory and that it is no longer dependent on Russia
A few days before the press tour, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS that Washington was conducting biological research at the Lugar Center laboratory.
“On the basis of this biological facility, research is being carried out on the use of insects as especially dangerous biological and infectious agents”, said Maria Zakharova.
Amiran Gamkrelidze briefly answers a journalist’s question about how Tbilisi reacts to this propaganda: “We invite all media [to visit]. We have nothing to hide”.
This is not the first press tour held at the Lugar Center laboratory. Earlier, both Russian journalists and scientists from different countries visited the laboratory.
The journalists’ visit to the Lugar laboratory coincided with the day when the first case of a new viral infection, monkeypox, was confirmed in Georgia.
Amiran Gamkrelidze explained how important it is to have such a high level laboratory in the country to fight such infections. These laboratories allow in-depth investigations to be carried out on site if an infection is suspected.
According to Gamkrelidze, the laboratory of the Lugar Center has also played an important role in the fight against the Covid pandemic.
The first case of Covid was recorded in Georgia on February 27, 2020. For two and a half years, hundreds of thousands of suspicious cases have been investigated in this laboratory.
Now, the pandemic has almost been defeated in Georgia. Daily incidence rates have been sharply reduced, all restrictions have been lifted.
Center of Lugar