Politics

Sakinform and Zakharova Looking for “Georgian Trace” in Skripal Poisoning

23 April, 2018

On April 16, 2018, Sakinform news agency released an article, in which it links a nerve-agent attack in Salisbury that targeted Russian ex-spy, Sergei Skripal to the functioning of the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center in Tbilisi.

Sakinform: “Georgian trace may be found in the case of poisoning ex-GRU colonel Sergei Skripal in the Great Britain. Commenting on the issue, Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, focused on the U.S. Defense Department’s medical-biological activities, including in Georgia.”

Sakinform echoes the statements made by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova on April 12, 2018. Commenting on the issue of Skripal poisoning, Zakharova noted that Russia was deeply concerned about the scales of the Pentagon’s medical-biological activities near Russian borders. Biological weapon and biological sabotage plotted by the United States against Russia is one of the key issues of Kremlin’s propaganda.

Speaking at a news briefing on April 12, 2018, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova focused on the investigation into the Skripal poisoning case and accused London of spreading disinformation. She also spoke about the issue of “American bio laboratories in the post-Soviet space” and indirectly linked poisoning of Skripal and his daughter to Public Health Research Centers.

Georgia and Ukraine were first named as the countries allegedly producing Novichok nerve agent by Zvezda nationwide TV channel run by the Russian Defense Ministry and Franz Klintsevich of the Russian Federation Council. The latter did not rule out that Novichok came to the Great Britain either from Georgia or from Ukraine.

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Rumors about the United States allegedly getting ready for creating biological weapon and plotting biological sabotage against Russia are one of the key topics of Kremlin’s propaganda. Russian media outlets and Russian politicians repeatedly claim that the United States is building laboratories near Russian borders in order to create a new generation biological weapon and use it against Russian citizens. Georgian media outlets also echo similar messages against the Lugar Laboratory, which is accused by pro-Kremlin groups of creating biological weapon, spreading viruses and conducting tests on Georgian population.   

Linking the Skripal case by Russian politicians and Georgian media to the Lugar Laboratory is part of conspiracy campaign and black propaganda unleashed against the lab since the day of its establishment.  

Georgian and Russian media reported in 2015 that chemical weapon used in Syria was allegedly produced in the Tbilisi-based Lugar Laboratory. According to new conspiracy theories that emerged in 2016, it was just the Lugar Laboratory that spread Zika virus in Abkhazia.

About the Lugar Lab

The Central Public Health Reference Laboratory (CPHRL), the so called Lugar Laboratory was opened in 2011 under the Framework Agreement signed in 1997 and the Agreement on Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise Related to the Development of Biological Weapons signed between the U.S. Department of Defense and the Georgian Defense Ministry in 2002. The United States provided a total of USD 350 million for the construction and technical equipment of the laboratory. In 2013 the laboratory moved to subordination of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) and from 2018 the Government of Georgia will assume responsibility for full funding and operation of the Lugar center and laboratory network.

  • The center contains 2nd and 3rd level biosafety laboratories. Level 3 zone includes bacteriology and virology laboratories, as well as a repository of human and animal diseases that are particularly dangerous pathogens. Lugar Laboratory Center is the only one in Georgia, in the Caucasus and Central Asia, which has a Level 3 Biosafety standart.
  • On the Level 2 are placed laboratories of research in general bacteriology, virology, serology, molecular epidemiology / genome, cell culture, parasitology and etymology. Also, there are three laboratories accredited by the World Health Organization: Influenza laboratory, which serves in diagnosisfor human and bird flu pathogens, Poliemielitis laboratory, which serves Armenia as well as Georgia and the measles and mumps laboratory.
  • One of the main priorities for the Lugar Center is the Safety of food produce. In this regard, the Lugar center works hand-in-hand with the Central Laboratory of the Center for Agriculture, because in regard to food safety both chemical and biological studies are needed.

Propaganda Method

Ad nauseum approach uses tireless repetition of an idea. This may be a simple idea or a simple slogan that is repeated so often that people begin to take it as the truth.

Conspiracy Theories and Pseudo-Science platforms exert huge influence on target audience through using conspiracies and pseudo-science. Similar methods promote sowing fear and doubts among the population. Scientific and expert opinions, as well as authentic scientific papers are totally neglected. It is difficult to break through the circle of conspiracies, because the propagandists depict the facts debunking conspiracies as yet another “proof” of conspiracy.

Demonizing technique implies portraying opponents as inhumane through false accusations and unjustified generalization.


Myth Detector's materials covering this topic

  • Disinformation about Filipino Workers and Bulgarian Journalist with Russian Links
  • Disinformation by Geworld.ge on Biosafety Laboratories in Ukraine and Georgia
  • Recurrent black  propaganda  against Lugar laboratory
  •  Disinformation by global research center in Alia regarding the Lugar laboratory
  • The  myth that the Lugar laboratory conducts biological experiments on Georgian population is groundless