The Russian Defense Ministry is accusing the United States of killing dozens of Georgians with a biological weapon after disguising it as drug research. Documents recorded the deaths of 73 people over a short period of time, indicating a test of “a highly toxic chemical or biological agents with high lethality rate.”
According to RT, the question of what really might have taken place at the secretive United States-sponsored research facility hosted by Russia’s southern neighbor Georgia was raised by the Russian military on Thursday after they studied files published online by a former Georgian minister. Igor Kirillov, commander of the Russian military branch responsible for defending troops from radiological, chemical and biological weapons said that it was not drug research, but a chemical or biological weapon that killed the 73 Georgians.
The documents relating to the secret lab were published last month by former Georgian minister for state security Igor Giorgadze, who says he obtained 100,000 pages of data pointing to questionable US practices.
Kirillov has doubts that the tests, which were carried out by the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research near the Georgian capital Tbilisi and were said to involve clinical trials of a drug called Sovaldi, which is meant for the treatment of Hepatitis C, were actually done on the drug. The producer of the drug is Gilead Sciences, a California-based biomedical firm that recruited former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a board member in 1988, in between his two tenures as head of the Pentagon.
“The documents showed many lethal outcomes among the patients. Despite the deaths of 24 people in December 2015 alone, the clinical trials were continued in violation of international standards and the wishes of the patients,” Kirillov claimed according to a report by RT. “This led to the deaths of 49 more people.”
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon responded to Russia’s allegations, telling RIA Novosti that the US did not conduct bioweapons research in Georgia and called the Russian ministry’s statements part of “a Russian disinformation campaign directed against the West.”
Russia will take “diplomatic and military action” in response to a perceived threat from US labs, said Vladimir Shamanov, head of Russian parliament’s Defense Committee. He was commenting on accusations by the Defense Ministry. “We cannot simply turn a blind eye to things happening near our southern borders that directly affect our safety,” he told TASS news agency.