The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that the Pentagon was running a secret biological weapons lab at the Lugar Center for Public Health and Research, located outside of Tbilisi. At a press conference on Friday, NCDC Director Amiran Gamkrelidze agreed to a request from a Sputnik correspondent to visit the laboratory, but the center later reversed its decision and refused to allow Russian media to the lab along with the Georgian ones. However, they were finally granted permission to visit it.
"We are always ready to accept Russian experts and any volunteers. Come, have a look and verify there is nothing similar to what they say is happening here," Paata Imnadze, the head of the NCDC scientific council, said.
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Earlier this week, Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the commander of the Russian Armed Forces' Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, said the United States was using labs in Georgia, including those at the Lugar Center, and tested toxic substances on local residents in attempts to research ways to deliver and unleash biological weapons agents in breach of international accords.
Georgia and the United States have both denied Russia's claims in comments to Sputnik. Georgia’s government envoy for ties with Russia Zurab Abashidze called the allegations absurd, while US Defense Department spokesman Eric Pahon said the center was owned and operated by Georgia’s disease control center. Gamkrelidze refuted the claims on Friday as well.