Several days ago, the representatives of the community club People’s Voice held a press conference in the neighbouring country of Armenia, where they stated that the biological laboratories of the United States in Armenia do not have anything to do with the epidemiological safety of the country, irrespective of their declared goals and objectives.
The reference laboratories of the United States are operating in many former Soviet Union countries. The Americans state that the purpose of those institutions is to ensure health guarantees of the domestic animals, to finance maintenance works and to establish modern laboratories, which will strengthen the capabilities of the government to monitor possible threats facing human health. Howver, those laboratories have double purpose, because they are financed by the militaries and their activities are strictly classified. The United States spends a lot of money to maintain the laboratories, for example, in Ukraine it spent 175 million, in Georgia – 150 million, in Kazakhstan – 130 million. In Armenia such laboratory is operating in Erevan, also in Gyumri and Ijevan (all three laboratories in Armenia were opened in 2016 – N.K.). There is no doubt that the US, namely the Pentagon, which spends a lot of money for the establishment of biological laboratories, has political and military goals. “Many experts state that after putting into operation such laboratories, various viruses and diseases have significantly increased in the world.” – stated the expert Arman Gykasian.
“After examining Georgia’s experience it turned out that the amount of money spent for the construction of such laboratories exceeds many times the finances allocated for the construction of civil institutions. It is impossible for this fact not to create any doubts, because there is the risk that the pathogens, stored at those laboratories, will be used for the creation of biological weapons in the future, based on the genetic type and biological peculiarities, characteristic to those people and regions. It is inadmissible that that state controls and maintains so important objects. Pentagon has already spent USD 18 million in Armenia for the establishment of such laboratories. If a laboratory is financed by a military body, respectively the goals are military as well” – stated another representative of the Club Tsovinar Kostanian.It is notable that the public movement People’s Voice organised a protest action in front of the US Embassy on the 15th of June, in Erevan. The participants of the action, who fear that Pentagon set military objectives for those biological laboratories, gave the list of requirements to the Ambassador of the United States of America to Armenia, Richard Mills.
Since 2010 the so-called US reference laboratories have been opened in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. While the number of such laboratories across the world has increased from 20 to 400.
The biological laboratory in Georgia, which is known as the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research, was opened on 18 March 2011.
In 1997 Georgia signed the agreement on biological disarmament. The phase of US-Georgia active cooperation started in 2001, when the US activated its work with the motive of possible use of bacteriological weapons by the terrorists, the establishment of control over the places of storage of strains and viruses and over the experiments in other countries. Georgia, where strains were stored back in the Soviet period and there were specialists experienced in working with them, was considered as the target country for terrorist penetration and the international programme for reduction of biological threat, elaborated by the Senator Richard Lugar in 1991, was applied to Georgia as well. In September 2004, the agreement was reached on the establishment of the Reference Laboratory for Public Health Protection near Tbilisi, in Alekseevka Settlement.
The American laboratory was opened on 18 March 2011 in Georgia. Andrew Weber, then Deputy Defence Minister of the United States in the field of nuclear, chemical and biological defence, John Bass, then Ambassador of the United States to Georgia and Nika Gilauri, then Chairperson of the Government of Georgia participated in the opening ceremony.
The construction of the laboratory in Georgia was caused by the geographical location and necessity – stated the USD Ambassador to Georgia, John Bass. Ana Zhvania was appointed as the Director of the laboratory, who had worked on several important positions in the Government of Georgia and was the head of the Intelligence Service until February 2008. On 12 August 2012, when the Senator Richard Lugar visited Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili represented the opening of the laboratory, in the manner characteristic to him, as the event of ”strategic importance”. After visiting the Centre he stated: “Russia has not made any investment of this level in Georgia in the Soviet times.” Saakashvili was making everything to create an illusion that a powerful strategic facility with the military goals was established in Georgia with the direct assistance and investment of the United States of America, the purpose of which, of course, was to neutralize the aggressive actions of the government of Russia. It is notable that the placement of the strain storage facility near the military airport caused doubt in the observers regarding the military purposes of that facility.
The first person, who started talking on the threats arising out of the Lugar Laboratory, was an American journalist, former adviser of Mikheil Saakashvili, Jeffry Silverman. In November 2015 Silverman stated in his interview to “Georgia and World”: ”Dangerous substances for health are made at the Lugar Laboratory, which is located in the suburbs of Tbilisi, and tried on the population … I am sure that dangerous experiments are carried out on people and animals in Georgia. Anthrax, malignant carbuncle, plague and so-called swine flu are made at Tbilisi laboratory and in case of an accident, Georgia will be wiped off the face of the earth…
Much more bio agents are stored in Kutaisi, but more attention is paid to Tbilisi biological laboratory. Also a so-called plant laboratory is operating in Kobuleti… 2 years ago, the personnel infected at Lugar Laboratory, were secretly transferred to “Aramiantsi” hospital for treatment and their treatment costs were also paid for the purpose of hiding information from media. The Laboratory must have been destroyed in 2011, when I exposed those news to public, but illegal researches are still going on.”
The words of Jeffry Silverman are confirmed by an inhabitant of Alekseevka settlement, who told to “Georgia and World” in February 2016 that in 2012, four employees of the American laboratory, who were from Philippines and who were renting an apartment at his block of flats, were intoxicated as a result of which two of them died. The inhabitants of Alekseevka settlement have headaches, hypertension, terrible smell, due to which they cannot open windows in the summer, and they blame all that on the operation of the laboratory. The fact of putting into operation the American Laboratory in Georgia concerned the public from the very beginning. The Global Research Centre even prepared a research on that topic in July 2016. The citations from the research are given below:
“For more than two years, from March 2011 to May 2013, Lugar Laboratory had a status of an independent legal person and was closely connected to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Also, it is referred to as “a research subdivision operating abroad” in the American military papers and magazines. During that period the activities of the Laboratory were vague and practically, there were not any publications according to its scientific specialization. This gave rise to the rumors about the creation of bacteriological weapon at the laboratory, entrance of the strains, causing diseases, to Georgia from abroad, performance of experiments on animals, etc. Much of that kind of information was also published in Georgian media. After coming to power Georgian Dream deprived the laboratory off the status of an independent legal person and subordinated it to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health under the structure of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. 90 persons work at the laboratory, 20 of whom are foreigners. The salaries of the engineering personnel were paid by the United States. The grant financing from abroad has been maintained for carrying out scientific and research projects. Also contact is kept with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (USA).
This creates concerns because there is an impression that Georgia has been chosen as an arena for conducting experiments. Most concerning are the researches on the human, animal and plant infectious disease causative agents. In fact, the United States has the possibility to conduct dangerous experiments outside its borders, without the risk of infecting its own citizens. It is unknown whether the safety of such researches for our citizens is controlled or not.
The increase of the number of American bacteriological centers in the Caucasus and Georgia significantly increases the risk of release of dangerous viruses, which threatens the population of Georgia.
The Director of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Amiran Gamkrelidze, does not agree with this opinion and states that the activities of the laboratory at this moment are absolutely open and the laboratory must be considered as an instrument of biological security of the country and an important scientific institute, with the contribution of which Georgia maintains and strengthens its competence in the area of healthcare and biological technologies. You can partially agree with Amiran Gamkrelidze’s arguments, but it should also be considered that the more the number of the experimental microbiological laboratories increases the higher the risk of infection of its personnel and then spread of diseases beyond the borders of the laboratory. If it happens with such disease agent as, for example, plague, the consequence of a small Georgia will be catastrophic. The recent analysis of the disasters of different genesis proves that a so-called human factor plays significant role in them. Is the population of Georgia insured against such mistakes? Scientific literature includes the cases of infection of the employees of American laboratories with such dangerous diseases, as salmonellosis, tularemia, plague, Ebola virus, etc. All that proves that the increase in the number of bacteriological laboratories, which study the dangerous disease causative agents, increases the probability of outbreak of epidemics on the territory of Georgia. Some specialists assume that biological laboratories may be working on creating hybrid microorganisms, the antigens of which mankind does not have. In case of spreading of those microorganisms Georgia may become the first polygon for the purpose of studying their impact on humans. Besides, the US will obtain unique data on possible microbe vectors, the speed of spread of infection, the percentage of morbidity, on mortality. Of course this will allow the Americans to study foreign bacteria agents and develop the measures of protection against them. By that the citizens of America will avoid threat, but will we as well?
The international context is also important. The biggest laboratory in the Caucasus and Central Asia is located on the territory of Georgia, which was built by the USA and financed by the US Defence Ministry. The Russian military base is located 30 km. away from the capital of Georgia. The conflict in the east Ukraine, 1000 km. away from Georgia in the north, conflict has not been resolved yet and 1000 km. away in the south there are ferocious terrorists of the “Islamic State” with the participation of the same super powers. Therefore, Georgia must show maximum caution and, most importantly, apply the principle of transparency in order not to give any reason for suspicion to any state.
The competent bodies must show interest in what was happening in Lugar Laboratory in 2011-2013. During that period the UD State Department stated that there was drug trafficking through the territory of Georgia, and in 2013 special unit detected about 3 tons of heroin. It is possible that the Laboratory is used for the purpose. At present the Laboratory is under the control of the civil service, but it is unknown to the society what had happened there before it was transferred to the Ministry of Health.
The issue is that whether the level of international cooperation and relations is enough at the region and beyond its borders to protect the laboratory from the terrorist attempts to obtain those strains and to effectively oppose the terrorism threat?
Is currently the Lugar Laboratory sufficiently protected? What role does the American militaries have in its activities? What do American scientists and militaries examine at the Laboratory? The society is not informed about that, while the examples of similar laboratories, even in the USA, form the basis for concern.”
Peculiarities of American Biological Laboratories
The US government says that those facilities have only military purpose and their goal is to ensure biological security of post-Soviet countries but, according to the opinions of many experts, those laboratories may be used or are already used against Russia, for hostile purposes. That is proved with the following facts:
1.All facilities have been built with the financing of the US Defence authority rather than the US Health authority; a lot of funds, which are spent for the construction of those facilities, emphasize high priority of the programme for Washington;
2.The practice of use of similar facilities by Americans shows that those facilities are not controlled by the state; laboratories are operating in the closed mode and are staffed with foreign personnel, including the people having diplomatic immunity. The facilities operating on the post-Soviet territories, which were financed by the United States are the part of the global system, which is widened by Washington all over the world. Many countries, where such laboratories operate, faced similar problems. For example, in 2010 Indonesia required to close the medical subdivision R-2 of the US Marine Forces, the operation of which it could not control despite the fact that the subdivision was located in the building of the Indonesia healthcare facility. The government of Indonesia established that the American medical subdivision conducted secret experiments and carried out unsanctioned monitoring over the social surveys;
3.The Heads of the American biological laboratories are often the militaries or representatives of special units, who are loyal to Washington.
4.The laboratories are located in the big cities (Odessa, Kharkov, Almaty), port cities (Odessa), near the airports (Tbilisi) or on the seismically dangerous territories (Almaty). For security purposes the location of those territories is vulnerable especially in case of Kazakhstan laboratory, but their location is beneficial for Americans in terms of transportation and logistics.
Experts think that the location of American laboratories on the perimeter of Russian borders will enable Pentagon to solve several problems, such as:
1.Collection of information about the microorganisms, endemic pathogens, disease spreading channels, etc. on those territories, which will enable them to create new biological weapons for using against Russia, Iran and China;
2.Carrying out sabotage operations in order to damage economics (destruction of cattle, discrediting the country’s products on the world market). This once happened in the practice of the United States against Cuba;
3.Increase of the dependence of Russia, Iran and China on the pharmaceutical industry of western nations, especially that genetic engineering achieved great success in the USA.
4.Avoiding restrictions, which are established with 1972 Geneva Convention on Prohibition of Bacteriological and Toxic Weapons. Americans refuse the inspectors of foreign countries to check the facilities, which are located outside the national territories.
Are American laboratories dangerous?
* On 13 June 2014, in the City of Atlanta (USA), 75 employees of the biological laboratory were at the risk of infection with malignant carbuncle due to the gross violation of safety measures – the personnel of the specialised laboratory sent the materials, containing the bacilli of malignant carbuncle to the ordinary laboratories of the disease control centre by mistake, the employees of which had neither the equipment (costumes, masks) nor the appropriate devices for working on such dangerous bacilli.
7 out of 75 employees of the laboratory contacted very dangerous biological material for health. They were treated for 60 days.
* In June 2015 the employees of the US Ministry of Defence sent the material containing malignant carbuncle to the American military base in South Korea and to the laboratories of 9 states of the country by mistake. 22 persons were infected due to the contact with dangerous materials.
* It is notable that the most cases of infection with malignant carbuncle in Georgia have been registered after Lugar biological laboratory was put into operation: according to the information disseminated by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, in 2012-2013 the cases of anthrax were registered in the regions of Kartli and Kakheti. 138 cases were registered in Kvemo Kartli region and 49 cases were registered in Kakheti. In 2000-2010 the annual number of cases of anthrax was within the range of 15-62, the number of has cases increased since 2011 and 81 cases have been registered (Kakheti Information Centre, 27 September 2013).
* In September 2001, several US offices and the representatives of the Democratic Party received letters containing the malignant carbuncle bacilli. 17 persons were infected 5 of whom died.
* In 2016 115 cases of so-called swine flu were registered in Georgia.
* In 2011-2013 17 cases of malignant carbuncle disease were registered in Russia, none were registered in Belarus (for the past 17 years), 9 cases were registered in Kirgizstan in 2012, 4 cases – in Moldova in 2013, 18 cases – in Tajikistan in 2013 and 13 cases – in Armenia.
The construction of biological laboratories in Eurasia with the financing of the US military authorities proves that the United States has not refused to carry out the programme of creation of biological weapons (biological or bacteriological weapons are the weapons of mass destruction, which destroys the live force of an opponent without destroying the infrastructure. Biological weapon includes entomological weapon by using infected insects).
It is notable that in 1994, the US Centre for Disease Control admitted direct participation in the creation of biological weapon. This organisation prepared agents for the military operations in Iraq in 1984-1989, such as: botulotoxins, west Nile fever viruses, plague and date fever causing agents. The US Centre for Disease Control still stores at its laboratories the agents of smallpox, which were destroyed at all countries across the world at the end of last century.
If we ignore a popular version of biological weapon and say that Americans build biological laboratories for the “love” of the population of foreign countries and “for peaceful purposes” on others’ rather than their own territories, it can be still stated that “biological operation” of Washington creates the risks of uncontrolled spread of dangerous viruses, which is proved by unexpected outbreaks of before “sleeping” human and animal diseases in different parts across the world.
Prepared by: Nika Korinteli
Note: In 2017 the United States plans to open another biological laboratory in Azerbaijan, with the third level of security at this time, which means working on especially dangerous bacteria and viruses.
For information: malignant carbuncle, i.e. anthrax is a severe bacterial infection infecting both human and animals, which is caused by the bacillus (Bacillus antracis). Humans are infected as a result of contact with an infected animal (touching, breathing in) or in case of eating the meat of such animals. The disease can be transmitted by predator insects. The disease damages skin, lymph nodes, and internal organs. Anthrax spores live for years in the ground, for example, on the pasture lands, which are contaminated with the urine of the infected animals.