US Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent thanks Georgia for opposing Russian propaganda against Lugar Center

  • US Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent says that Russia continues its disinformation campaign against the Lugar Centre in Tbilisi. Photo:, 7 May 2020 - 18:13, Tbilisi,Georgia

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent has thanked the Georgian Foreign Ministry for opposing Russia’s continued propaganda, ‘which was also echoed in China’, against the US-built Lugar Lab in Tbilisi, which is administered entirely by the Georgian government. 

In a recent video conference organised by the German Marshall Fund, Kent said that despite the coronavirus pandemic Russia continues to spread disinformation about the Lugar Centre, which has played an important role for Georgia’s fight against COVID-19. 

Kent said that it is ‘regrettable’ that ‘China has repeated’ Russian messages in terms of the centre. 

Earlier this week Chinese media outlets cited the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying that the US has labs on the territories of post-soviet states which causes concerns in neighbouring countries.

Following the media reports Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandre Khvtisiashvili met the Chinese ambassador to Georgia. 

During the meeting Khvtisiashvili thanked China for supporting Georgia during the pandemic and discussed the issue of the Lugar Lab. 

The Georgian Foreign Ministry says that official China distanced itself from the media reports.

Lugar Lab was opened in 2011. Photo: RFE/RL.

The US Embassy to Georgia said  on April 10 that it is happy to see more Georgians are learning about the important work of the Lugar Lab in Tbilisi. 

The Lugar center, which was constructed with US government funding and is owned and operated by the Georgian government, was established to identify and address disease outbreaks just like COVID-19,” the embassy said. 

The lab is frequently the target of Russian government propaganda, which claims that ‘alarming genetic research’ is being conducted in the centre. 

Georgian health officials have many times dismissed the allegations, calling them ‘unimaginable falsehoods and slander.’

They have also invited Russian scientists to the country to see the lab and familiarise themselves with the activities of the lab. However, the invitations have been consistently dismissed.

  • The Lugar Lab, 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.