Monday, July 22, 2013

Russia warns Georgia over U.S.-funded bio lab

US Ambassador R.Norland. Photo IPN
22.07.2013. Just few months after Russia dropped embargo on Georgian wines and mineral waters, its chief sanitary doctor warned that presence of the U.S.-funded bio lab in Tbilisi would have “sharply limiting effect” on bilateral trade ties.

Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russia’s state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, which ordered ban on import of Georgian products to Russia in 2006, told Interfax news agency on that the laboratory represents “a powerful offensive potential.”

“Russia deems it to be a direct violation of BWC [Biological Weapons Convention],” Onishchenko was quoted.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s July 19 statement, released in rebuttal of the U.S. Department of State’s annual report on arms control and nonproliferation, contains what might be a reference to the U.S.-funded biological research laboratory in Tbilisi outskirts. The Russian MFA’s statement says: “Biological-related activities of the U.S. Department of Defense close to the Russian borders also cause our serious concern.”

Onishchenko also said: “With the broadening of contacts and shipments of Georgian wines and agriculture products into Russia, our alarm over presence on the Georgian territory of the powerful laboratory of the U.S. Navy, which is out of the Georgian authorities’ control, will be more and more increasing.”

Rospotrebnadzor notes with satisfaction the positive development of relations with the Georgian side over resumption of economic ties. Soon shipments of the Georgian wines into Russia will reach one million liters. But the presence on the Georgian territory of the military laboratory of the U.S. Navy will have sharply limiting effect,” Onishchenko said.

The U.S. has invested USD 150 million in the state-of-the-art lab, which was named after former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and which, according to the Georgian and U.S. officials, aims at protecting public and animal health through dangerous pathogens detection and epidemiological surveillance. The Richard G Lugar Center for Public Health Research is part of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, said in early May, when he toured the lab together with PM Bidzina Ivanishvili: “This is a Georgian facility and control now is moving to the Georgian authorities, who will be managing this [facility] in cooperation and partnership with experts from the United States.”

“This facility has the regional significance. This is the state-of-the-art facility unlike anything in almost any country in the region,” Ambassador Norland said on May 8 and that the facility was open for participation by experts “from anywhere in this region.”

“This is an open invitation to participate in this state-of-the-art scientific facility,” the U.S. Ambassador said.



  1. US Embassy releases statement regarding Jeffrey Silverman’s interview
    The US Embassy to Georgia has released a statement on April 17, 2013 concerning an interview with Jeffrey Silverman recently published in the ‘KvelaSiakhle’ newspaper.“The United States strongly supports freedom of speech and the press and has long advocated for a free and pluralistic media environment in Georgia and elsewhere. Nevertheless, with journalistic freedom comes responsibility, including the responsibility to corroborate information before reporting it. The interview excerpts Kviris Palitra published today on its website and Facebook page contain a number of statements about U.S. policy that are absolutely without any basis in fact, and that, unfortunately, reflect on the veracity of their apparent source,” the statement reads. Silverman, a long term resident of Georgia, 20 years, journalist and decorated former US Army, discussed several topics in the interviews. These were carried on all main TV stations, with the noted exception of Rustavi2. His no holds barred interview has sparked much controversy in Georgian society, and his take on some aspects of the death of the Georgian PM, Zurab Zvhania and links to US foreign policy.

    These allegations have been widely publicized in Georgia since they were made because they confirm longstanding rumors. The US Embassy has long maintained that Mr. Silverman is not a reliable source of information, but diplomatic protocol requires an Embassy to counter misinformation by simply stating what it believes to be the correct information.

    GT would like to know why the US Embassy has gone to lengths to sanction the torturing and beating Mr. Silverman, following reports he has made over the years, if he is so unreliable that his reports cannot be taken seriously, and why this is considered appropriate behavior for diplomatic representatives. These beatings, and various other harassment of Mr. Silverman such as depriving him of his civil rights as a US citizen, are a matter of public record and have been extensively documented by the Georgian Human Rights Center and the Georgian media.

    Silverman also claims in recent print and broadcast interviews that there is a biological weapons laboratory in Tbilisi which houses deadly bio agents that can be weaponized (anthrax, measles, and black plague and H1N1 bacteria). Similar information has also been alleged by a Norwegian journalist who was attacked. The facility near the airport is rather impressive, and he as Silverman suffered an unprovoked attack. Perhaps the attack was related to a site visit, perhaps coincidence, as previously reported in the Georgian Times several years ago.

    Silverman describes in his recent interview, “This laboratory is next to Tbilisi Airport. It was created by Saakashvili in 2007 with the help of the Americans and Bechtel National. Anna Zhvania, the former head of the Georgian Foreign Intelligence Service, was the appointed laboratory director. In this laboratory they produce biological weapons components which are prohibited in America. If there is an emergency at the laboratory Georgia will be wiped off the face of the earth. Anthrax, measles, black plague and H1N1 are going to be produced there. It is possible that these viruses are being artificially spread, and in fact measles is a serious problem in this country today. A counterpart laboratory has also been operating in Kobuleti, under the auspices of the UK’s Ministry of Defence but dealing with plant diseases; there is also a smaller biological laboratory in Kutaisi.”

  2. The Center for Disease Control, CDC, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, says that the US Military is in charge of the bio lab, not the Georgian government.

    Something does not add up

    Checked with staff here at CDC and was told “the lab is managed by the Department of Defense. Try contacting USAMIRID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Sorry, do not have a contact number for them.”


    CDC/Division of Public Affairs
    1600 Clifton Road, MS D-25
    Atlanta, GA 30333

    How has the Georgian government responded to the fact that the lab, at least according to the Center for Disease Control, remains under the control of the US military? If the Georgia lab, the Central Reference Lab, is non functional and never been functional, as is stated, where would the problem be, from their perspective?

    Answer: There are other labs and the bio lab which is now the centre of attention is basically a decoy.

    All these labs are linked to the Biological Weapon Proliferation Prevention (BWPP) programme and various projects within it, which is a cover for what is most likely an offensive programme. Animals will spread the diseases manufactured in these labs, and then it is just a matter of identifying the cure. If the strains developed turn out to be antibiotic resistant, ongoing research into viruses that eat bacteria, and attack infections that are antibiotic resistant, will be consulted. Whoever has such information controls the bio weapons battleground.


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