Tuesday, October 15, 2013

US bio-lab in Georgia violates Biological and Toxin Convention, Russia seeks its shutdown

15.10.2013. The bio-laboratory that’s been opened in Georgia with the US aid could well be used for sabotage against Russia, the Head of the Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights Protection and Wellbeing, Chief Russian Sanitary Authority, Gennady Onishchenko, said on Monday.

"We are pointing out again that we are extremely concerned about the activity of the laboratory that the Georgian authorities are not in control of," Gennady Onishchenko said.

"According to our estimates, the laboratory is an important element of the offensive part of the US military-biological potential," the Head of the Russian Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights Protection said.

According to Onishchenko, the fact that the lab is operational in Georgia proves that the United States is violating its international pledges, specifically the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

"While studying the situation around endemic disease focuses, involving virus circulation in the Russian Federation and the Caucasus, the lab creates agents that can be used to destabilize the political and economic situation in the country. I specifically mean the hidden use of such agents. And there are examples to prove it”, Gennady Onishchenko said.

He earlier claimed that an outbreak of African swine fever in Russia was a planned sabotage attack against Russia from Georgian territory.

Gennady Onishchenko said that Russia would make the enlargement of the Georgian product range on the Russian market conditional on whether the US bio-laboratory would or would not remain operational in Georgia.

"We believe that the food chain is one of the more important forms of use of such agents. Georgian products access to the Russian market will always be directly tied to the activity of the military base in question in Georgia," the Head of the Russian Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights Protection said.

He added that the Georgian authorities’ statement on reducing the funding of the laboratory does not allay Russia’s concerns.

"This, conversely, shows a complete lack of understanding of the laboratory’s high capacity and significance. Putting it simply, the entire budget of Georgia’s Public Health System will hardly prove sufficient to keep that powerful military facility operational. We suggest that the situation that’s taken shape should be sized up seriously and that the necessary and possible decision should be made to allay our concerns," Gennady Onishchenko said.

According to him, Russia is prepared to allow more Georgian wine-makers to sell their wines in Russia against the guarantees of Georgian authorities. Onishchenko said he specifically meant the eight Georgian wineries that were originally barred access to the Russian market. None of the eight has submitted papers for their product registration in the Russian Federation, the Head of the Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights Protection said.

"We are prepared to accept these wineries’ papers for their product registration in Russia, and allow some of them, even a half of them to start delivering their wines to Russia in the near future," Gennady Onishchenko said.

In 2006, Russia banned the imports of Georgian wines and mineral water due to the failure to meet quality and safety requirements. A mechanism to return Georgian products to the Russian market was agreed earlier this year. Many Georgian wine-makers and mineral water producers have since resumed the deliveries of their products.

The Georgian authorities said earlier that the Lugar centre, set up with the US aid, has been operating exclusively for peaceful purposes.


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