MOSCOW, May 29. /TASS/. Member of the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament), Russian envoy to talks with Georgia Grigory Karasin and Georgian prime minister’s special envoy for settling relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze have had a phone call on Thursday to discuss a visit of Russian experts to Georgia’s Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research.
"We touched upon this issue and will continue discussing it further. Russia’s emotional involvement in this topic is understandable. There are hundreds of thousands people in Russia and millions in the world suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, therefore, the international community should discuss and resolve these issues bilaterally and multilaterally," Karasin told TASS Friday.
"We are preparing for such a dialogue, without it we will always be in danger of this scourge repeating," the senator noted.
He underlined that Russia is adhering to mechanisms of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction cited in Tbilisi when talking about any potential laboratory visits. "However, we are ready for cooperation and consultations with Georgia on all these issues on bilateral basis as well," Karasin added.
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a comment, saying that Russian specialists should have access to all facilities of the Richard Lugar Center when visiting the lab.
The Russian diplomatic agency noted that the mechanism of ‘voluntary assessment visits’ to microbiology labs of dual purpose advanced by certain western countries has nothing to do with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction. Moreover, Moscow pointed out that in reality the center’s activity is overseen and paid for by the US military agency and includes experiments on using insects to spread highly dangerous biological and infection agents as well as equipping munitions with poisonous matters or infectious agents.
Richard Lugar Center
Russia has repeatedly expressed its concern over the work of the Georgia-based Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research. Opened near Tbilisi’s international airport in 2011 under a US governmental program, the center specializes in the study of biological threats. Georgia’s former State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze told reporters in late 2018 that he had evidence confirming that the lab was carrying out dangerous experiments and called on US President Donald Trump to investigate its activities. Giorgadze claimed that US military and private contractors could be engaged in secret experiments on humans there. Georgia dismissed these allegations as absurd while Moscow said it would request the lab-related documents from the United States.