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Tbilisi Decries Russian Disinformation over Lugar Research Center

On May 27, the Georgian Foreign Ministry decried Russia’s renewed bio-warfare allegations against the Tbilisi-based Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research, saying that despite being provided with numerous clarifications about Center’s activities, Moscow made a vicious attempt to undermine “the role of a successful institution in the Georgian and regional security.”

In a statement of May 26, Moscow expressed its concern over U.S.-funded Lugar Center, a subsidiary of the Georgian Health Ministry’s National Center for Disease Control and called into question Center’s compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. Russian MFA said it is working with Georgian and U.S. authorities to arrange a visit of Russian experts works at the Center.

Highlighting that the country is fulfilling its international obligations pursuant to the Biological Weapons Convention, the Georgian MFA stressed that the Center is owned and financed solely by Georgia, and that all research activities at the medical facility are authorized and coordinated by the Georgian health authorities.

Responding to Russia’s plans to arrange its experts’ visit at the Center, Tbilisi said “against the backdrop of vicious and aggressive disinformation, which is only aimed at disparaging the Lugar Center and research [activities] carried out on its premises, Georgia does not consider granting access to the expert team comprised of the Russian experts only.” 

However, the Georgian MFA said the country is ready to host “competent Russian experts” authorized to access to this type of “security laboratory infrastructure,” albeit only within the frames of the BWC, similar to the one that was organized back in 2018. 

In this context, Georgian MFA recalled that the Russian experts had already been invited to access the Center back in 2018 for a peer review exercise, which Moscow termed as a propaganda seminar and “categorically rejected” to join.

Georgia said the Russian “disinformation” is particularly concerning as the Lugar Center has been at the frontline of Georgia’s successful fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tbilisi appealed to the international community – BWC member states in particular – to assess Russia’s “aggressive statements”  and to “denounce [its] glaring disinformation” in order to disperse doubts about “the successful functioning of an exemplary institution in the region.” 

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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