The Russian Foreign Ministry says that they are waiting for a response from Tbilisi to allow Russian experts to enter the US-built, Tbilisi Lugar Centre, which is now under the full control of the Georgian government.
Russia says that ‘using the centre for military-biologic activities by a foreign state (by the US) gives rise to many questions.’
Russia claims that the US funds the researchers in the centre and ensures its security.
"We are concerned as the US refuses to explain what are its activities near the Russian border,” the statement said.
Russia says that a group of foreign experts visited the centre in November 2018. ‘However, the visit did not cover a comprehensive check of the centre.’
Head of the Georgian National Centre of Disease Control Amiran Gamkrelidze says that Russia’s continued attacks on the Lugar Centre are political in nature.
Gamkrelidze said that Georgia, including himself personally, has invited Russian experts and officials many times to the Lugar Centre. However, they have refused to take up the invitation.
"Russia is also officially invited to the special secretariat in Geneva which studies issues of biological safety. A delegation headed by the secretariat, which included 21 representatives from 18 countries, visited the centre in 2018. Russia was also invited. However, they did not come,” Gamkrelidze stated.
He said that it is incorrect that the centre was not properly checked in 2018.
"Everything was checked and the report is available on the web pages of the Geneva Biological Safety Secretariat and the Georgian National Centre of Disease Control,” Gamkrelidze said.
He stated that major worries of Russia is why the US helped Georgia to build the centre and Georgia is no longer dependent on Russia.
"They are worried as we look to the US, EU and NATO and not to Russia,” Gamkrelidze said.
The Lugar Centre, officially called the Center for Public Health Research, is located in Tbilisi and named after former American Senator Richard Lugar.
It became operational in 2013. The centre is part of Georgia’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), under the Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs.
The construction of the centre was launched in 2004 based on agreements signed between Georgia and US in 1997 and 2002.