Baku Denies U.S. Lab In The Country Amid Moscow’s Renewal Of Claims Of U.S. Labs In Its Backyard

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 5 October 2018
Baku Denies U.S. Lab In The Country Amid Moscow’s Renewal Of Claims Of U.S. Labs In Its Backyard

Russia suspects that the Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Tbilisi may contain a secret military biological weapons program run by the U.S. military and private contractors. Former Georgian State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze asked President Donald Trump to investigate reports that personnel at the Lugar Center may have engaged in experiments on human test subjects, some of which he claims proved to be lethal.

Addressing a news conference, Giorgadze said that he had received "hundreds of thousands of pages'" worth of documents from "friends" in Georgia, showing what appears to be evidence of experiments against human test subjects at the lab. The former minister cited lab figures on the deaths of 24 people in December 2015 while being treated for hepatitis C. Giorgadze claimed that in April and August 2016, another 30 and 13 people, respectively, died, the cause of their deaths listed as "unknown," with no formal investigation into the causes behind.

"A whole range of experiments involving my fellow Georgians had lethal outcomes," Giorgadze was quoted as saying, adding that he did not have access to information about the alleged victims' names – only case numbers with dates of birth and sex. He said the experiments were conducted against the backdrop of the country's battle against hepatitis C, which included the use of drugs that proved deadly for some patients.

"On behalf of the Georgia Abroad Movement, which I head, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of my compatriots in Georgia and abroad, I want to address U.S. President Donald Trump. I appeal to you with an earnest request to initiate an investigation into the legality of the experiments conducted in Georgia by the staff of the Lugar laboratory, who acted based on permission given by the previous administration, and in agreement with Georgia's former president," Giorgadze said.

Georgians would be "sincerely grateful" to Trump if he were to get to the bottom of this issue and rid Georgia of the "threats posed by any uncontrolled, experimental dual-purpose activity in the fields of biology and bacteriology," he said. He stressed that he was not an expert in the field of biological warfare and urged experts to familiarize themselves with the documents and draw their own conclusions once they are released. He said that he was looking for an appropriate resource to publish the documents to ensure that the story receives maximum attention.

The Lugar Center was opened in 2011 and received the attention of both journalists and intelligence agencies, including Russia's FSB, which suspects that the lab had been involved in bioweapons research. Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, a Bulgarian investigative journalist who has written extensively on the Pentagon's alleged secret bioweapons program, believes the Lugar Center is a component of this program.

When reached for comment, the Lugar Center denied Giorgadze's claims. A spokesperson said: "Nothing like this happens here. Our lab's head has repeatedly said that he invites everyone who wishes to do so to visit the laboratory to dispel all doubts. There are no barriers to doing so."

No US labs in Baku

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry has said that there are no foreign laboratories in the country. "There are no laboratories controlled by a foreign state in Azerbaijan. Therefore, their reconstruction is out of the question," the ministry said in a press release.

The ministry made the statement after the allegations by Maj-Gen Igor Kirillov, the commander of Russia's Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence Troops, that Pentagon-controlled labs operate in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan.

"The Lugar Centre is only one small element in the vast biological warfare program of the U.S. Intensive work is under way on the territory of countries, bordering Russia, where Pentagon-controlled laboratories operate as well. The reconstruction of laboratory buildings continue in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan," Kirillov said on October 4.

“U.S. lab’s bio tests kill dozens of Georgians”

The Russian Defence Ministry revived claims that the U.S. runs a biological weapons research facility in Georgia with accusations that dozens of patients died in the testing of a highly toxic biological or chemical agent there, according to the commander of Russia's Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence Troops, Maj-Gen Igor Kirillov.

Kirillov added, "the United States is consistently increasing its biological potential and control over national collections of pathogenic microorganisms, not only in the post-Soviet space".

"Currently there are over 30 constantly modernized, highly biologically secure U.S.-controlled laboratories in operation," he said, adding that this had apparently been "confirmed by official data from the UN".

"The choice of locations for the laboratories, in our opinion, is no coincidence - many are located near the territories of Russia and China, becoming a source of constant biological threat to our countries," Kirillov concluded.