‘Infected mosquitoes from an American plane’ – Moscow demands inspection of Lugar lab in Tbilisi
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has again questioned the nature of the scientific work of the Lugar Laboratory in Tbilisi, claiming it may be a biological threat and calls on Tbilisi to allow Russian experts into the Lugar Center so that they can personally verify what the lab is doing.
“The subject of our concern – Washington does not explain what it is doing in the immediate vicinity of Russian borders,” the letter reads on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on May 26.
The Foreign Ministry writes that Moscow has many “solid” questions about the ongoing “military-biological” activities at the Lugar research center in Georgia.
Moscow says that Lugar’s laboratory is completely controlled by Washington, which is a problem for the Kremlin.
“The activities of foreign countries raise a number of well-grounded issues,” the letter says.
The letter emphasizes that all research is funded by the US military, including the security center.
“Despite our demands, the United States did not provide us with information about the Center’s activities,” the statement said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry declares that the International Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxic Weapons (BTWC) gives the Russian side the right to take an interest in the activities of the center and request information.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also states that in the Lugar lab, studies are being carried out on the spread of dangerous viruses through insects.
“The United States has already patented unmanned aerial vehicles to disperse infected mosquitoes in the air. In addition, a patent was issued for the production of ammunition into which toxic substances or infectious agents will be loaded,” the official letter of the Russian Foreign Ministry says.
Russia skeptical of international experts
The Russian Foreign Ministry claims that it does not trust the group of international experts who conducted an audit of the Lugar lab in November 2018.
The Russian FM argues that the “real test” will be conducted by Russian experts. Moscow demands that they be allowed into the Lugar lab and “guarantee their access to all buildings, including the building occupied by American specialists.”
This is not the first time that Moscow requires an inspection of the center. A note with a similar demand was sent by the Russian Foreign Ministry to Tbilisi in 2019, Tbilisi left it unanswered.
“Now we are waiting for the official reaction of Tbilisi,” the letter says.
Russia and the Lugar Laboratory
For many years, the Lugar laboratory has been the target of a Russian information attack.
Media close to the Kremlin, with the help of Georgian pro-Russian resources, are waging a real information war against the center.
Even documentaries are filmed in Russia accusing the Lugar lab of spreading dangerous viruses in Georgia.
Georgia has argued that Russian misinformation is usually aimed at successful programs implemented in Georgia. For example, hepatitis C elimination programs.
During the global coronavirus pandemic, the Lugar laboratory played a special role in ensuring public health.
Experts acknowledge that the readiness of the Lugar lab is one of the main reasons for Georgia’s success in the fight against the virus.
For example, coronavirus reagents were delivered to the center of Lugar 20 days after their creation, and 22 days before the first case of coronavirus infection in Georgia.
Since March, this laboratory has been open 24 hours a day.
Earlier, U.S. ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan responded to misinformation spread by Russian officials and the media about the Lugar Center, expressing concern over the campaign.