Chemical nerve-agents like “Novichok” are produced in the U.S. and Georgian labs – MP Yury Shvytkin, Deputy Chairman of Russian Duma’s Defence Committee from the ruling United Russia party, claimed on Wednesday, September 2.
Shvytkin’s comments came after, earlier in the day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel officially announced that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was “without a doubt” poisoned with a chemical nerve-agent of the “Novichok” group, based on a toxicological analysis carried out in the German army laboratory.
Navalny has been undergoing treatment in Charité – Universitätsmedizin hospital in Berlin since August 22, after being airlifted to Germany from Russia following reports of his suspected poisoning.
„Let’s presume that we are not producing similar chemical substances on our territory. As far as I’m informed, similar weapons, similar chemical poisoning substances are to be found in the Georgian territory from the U.S. side, in the laboratory, and in the U.S.,” Shvytkin told Ria Novosti.
A Novichok nerve-agent was earlier used in the Russia-linked Salisbury poisoning incident when a former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter were attacked.
Reactions from Tbilisi
Vice Speaker Gia Volski, leader of the ruling Georgian party, responded to the accusations, saying that Russia is precisely aware that “nothing of this kind is happening in the Lugar center”. MP Volski warned that a similar trend of Russian propaganda is expected to intensify during the pre-election period.
Opposition politicians have partly blamed the Georgian Government for Shvytkin’s comments.
MP Salome Samadashvili from the United National Movement party slammed the ruling party for failing to follow strategic partners in condemning Russia’s actions following Navalny’s poisoning reports. The MP added that similar disinformation is a consequence of the “non-irritation policy” of Russia pursued by the Georgian Dream government.
Not The First Accusation
Russia voiced bio-warfare allegations against the Lugar Center multiple times before, continuously accusing the Tbilisi-based U.S.-funded biological research facility of carrying out suspicious activities that raise questions over its compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention.
The USD 100 million laboratory, Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research, named after U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, was opened in the outskirts of the Georgian capital in 2011 to promote public and animal health through infectious disease detection and epidemiological surveillance.
The Center has been playing the key role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia.
The Georgian authorities have repeatedly decried the Russian accusations.