The third online conference “US biological laboratories: threats to the world community”, held by the publication “Ridus” on the basis of the “Public News Service”, expanded the range of problematic issues and the geography of participants. So, this time the situation with biological safety in Armenia and Transcaucasia was analysed in detail.
I would like to note that the acute and detailed report of Grigor Grigoryan, an expert on the organisation of veterinary health care and the fight against zoonotic diseases, should logically be of interest to the representatives of the Georgian “Imedi” TV channel who attended the conference. But they left the event, saying that everything described in the reports and speeches of experts sounds unconvincing.
By the way, Georgian experts had similar complaints about the conclusions of the Armenian expert Grigor Grigoryan in 2007 that there was African swine fever in Georgia: “it is not convincing”. But then his findings were confirmed by a reference laboratory in the UK. Sometimes it’s worth listening to smart experts, so that later it won’t be “agonisingly painful for the aimless years”.
By the way, we sent official invitations to our conference to the US and Kazakh embassies via Facebook. But there was no reaction.
The first field of bacteriological warfare
And we would be interested in the reaction of representatives of the American Embassy to some historical analogies. For example, how the conclusions published in the report of the international scientific commission on the investigation of the facts of the bacteriological war in Korea and China (1952) correspond to the current activities of US biological laboratories. The work of this international commission may still provide us with the necessary roadmaps. After all, it is clear that endlessly expressing concern about the activities of American extraterritorial facilities in post-Soviet countries is a road to nowhere.
The message at our conference was simple and precise: a criminal rarely admits to having committed a crime. At least not until they’ve been pinned to the wall. Drawing attention to the problem (especially in countries where it is not mentioned) is only the first step. Yes, it is important that more and more people in different countries understand that the activities of the Pentagon’s biological laboratories have all the signs of war crimes. But war crimes must be investigated. And only then will there be a chance, if not to convict a war criminal, then at least to force them to curtail their criminal activities.
Here is a quote from the report of the international scientific commission on investigating the facts of the bacteriological war in Korea and China: “Thanks to the publication of the ‘Materials of the trial of former Japanese army soldiers accused of preparing and using bacteriological weapons’ (Moscow, 1950), the world has become aware of numerous facts about the practical activities carried out under the leadership of the Japanese bacteriologist Ishii Shirō, who unfortunately escaped punishment. It was irrefutably established that the Japanese used the technique of mass production of cholera, typhoid and plague bacteria, literally in batches of hundreds of kilograms of culture mass. A fairly simple technique was also used for mass breeding of rats and fleas, although in practice only the latter were distributed. In addition, many witnesses gave exact dates of their departure to various Japanese bases in China to observe the methods used to spread infections. Many details were also given about special secret detachments (such as the notorious detachment 731), their laboratories, training grounds, and prisons, where Chinese and Russian patriots were used as experimental animals with inhuman composure. In the course of its work, the commission had the opportunity to get acquainted with several of the few surviving copies of bacteriological ‘bombs’ that were produced according to the project of Ishii Shirō at a special factory in Harbin.”
I will add that the Soviet representative Zhukov-Verezhnikov, who was a member of the commission, was the chief medical expert at the Khabarovsk trial of former Japanese soldiers accused of participating in the bacteriological war. The findings of this commission show one of the main points: how the Japanese experience in conducting bacteriological warfare in the 1940s was used by the Americans in the 1950s – for the same purposes, and sometimes against the same enemy.
War criminal Ishii Shirō didn’t just escape punishment for his misdeeds. His experience and knowledge were in demand by the US military for the bacteriological war in the Far East.
The international scientific commission to investigate the facts of the bacteriological war in Korea and China cited many facts (which resemble, for example, the situation around the Lugar Center in Georgia): “In some cases, certain types of insects have never been recorded in areas where they are now found in huge numbers. Certain species by individual, sent to Chinese experts as samples from the mass of insects found after the passage of American aircraft, are shown in the table”. This is written about the Far East in the 50s, but equally applies to the situation in the Caucasus in the 2010s, to the activities of the Lugar Center.
Please note that both in 1952 and now the world community is distrustful of information from scientists in the affected countries. After all, the United States is accused of this criminal activity, although a priori cannot be suspected of anything like this. And there will definitely be a pool of specially trained experts and scientists who are called upon to disavow all these revelations, reports, and the entire array of facts. I must say that in those countries where biolabs are being developed, the Pentagon successfully brainwashes and buys off scientists working in the relevant fields. I.e., in those areas to which American extraterritorial facilities “stick” and conduct their further activities.
Central Asia in the interests of the Pentagon
Journalists asked the participants of the conference why the United States “bypasses” Tajikistan, where nothing is heard about the Pentagon’s biological laboratories. The head of the Eurasian Analytical Club Nikita Mendkovich replied: “There is no official US laboratory. One of the laboratory facilities there was built with the support of France and is used for research by the US military, but through proxy organisations. Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) has a so-called international scientific and technical center (ISTC), which is formally a research organisation that distributes grants. In fact, this is an outpost of American and British intelligence. There are two public faces. One of these people was a long-time functionary of American intelligence, the other was an active officer of British military intelligence. This organisation, the ISTC, receives money from the defence departments of Britain and the US and issues various research grants in Tajikistan on its own behalf. In my recent publications, I have given specific examples and grant numbers. Thus, it is formally possible to deceive the Tajik side. Formally, the documents do not mention the us army, but in fact research is being conducted in its interests.”
Nikita Mendkovich made a presentation for the conference participants on “US Biolabs in Kazakhstan and threats to the region”. The expert recalled that during the work of the US military in Kazakhstan, with a total complexity of more than 15 years, at least 28 research projects were conducted, in which 31 foreign specialists participated. These are mostly military biologists from the US, UK and Germany.
“We have quite an official document at our disposal, which shows that the specified laboratory (in Almaty) acted as a contractor for the US Central Command for at least three years and, most likely, still works in this capacity,” says N. Mendkovich. He recalled that the Central Command conducts military operations in Iraq and Syria. In Iran, it is recognised as a terrorist organization (the Central Command is responsible for the murder of Soleimani). “Actually, this document was accidentally released to the public,” the expert explains. “The Americans gave it to the Germans as part of the agreements, and they mistakenly declassified it. As a result, we can read it.”
Several representatives of Kazakhstan also participated in the conference. Dmitry Legky, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist People’s party of Kazakhstan and doctor of historical sciences, says that in his country the activities of American biological laboratories are hushed up, but sooner or later the public will have to solve this issue, and not just discuss it. He drew attention to a dangerous trend: this is a global problem, but they are trying to move it deep into the post-Soviet space.
Co-Chairman of the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan Ainur Kurmanov noted the serious influence of western consulting companies on the government of Kazakhstan. The local elite mistakenly believes that the placement of a reference laboratory and other facilities (such as the NATO military training center) is a guarantee of Kazakhstan’s security. “We have now initiated the collection of signatures within the communist and workers’ parties to ban such objects on the territory of the former Soviet republics,” Kurmanov says. “We will organise international campaigns.”
Transcaucasia: in the zone of special attention
Grigor Grigoryan, an Armenian expert on veterinary healthcare and the fight against zoonotic diseases, made a detailed report on how the US purposefully crushed the area of biological security in the Transcaucasus. Here are the main theses of his speech: “Everything that happens on the territory of the former Soviet Union is not a sporadic or impromptu decision. This is a strategy that has been prepared for decades. <…> A huge number of serious technical documents published by the US Department of Defence are devoted to the study of the sanitary-epidemiological and veterinary system on the territory of the Soviet Union. If you look through them, you will see that even monographs have been published with a detailed description of all systems on the territory of all former Soviet republics. Systems that are the fundamental pillars of the national biological security system of these republics. And they were the supporting columns of the Soviet Union’s biological security.”
In the 1990s, few scientists and politicians in Armenia and other post-Soviet countries paid attention to the US strategy for the new millennium.
“In 1994, this document was published, ‘The strategy of involvement in international affairs and the spread of democracy in the world’,” says G. Grigoryan. “But the final version of the ‘strategy’was published in 1998 under the title ‘US national security strategy for the new century’. And very few people paid attention to such minor changes. For example, a 1994 report said: ‘maintaining democracy abroad’. And in the document of 1998 – about the creation of democracy abroad”.
The expert is sure that this “creation of democracy means a radical transformation of the approach to ensuring national security in general and biological security in particular”. After all, in both of these reports, very much attention was paid to the biosecurity strategy, and it was considered as one of the main directions of the security strategy of the US. He believes that the entry of the US into the field of biological security in the former Soviet Union in the first half of the 90s was accompanied by the introduction of the “Epi Info” program developed by the CDC in Atlanta in all government departments.
For the state system, it has become the official system for collecting information. After all this happened, in 2000, the US unilaterally blocked the protocol proposed for joint monitoring of biological security facilities in order to verify compliance with the provisions of the convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons and on their destruction. Then the US unilaterally did not recognise the Cartagena Protocol, which also provided for the prohibition of the use of GMOs, including viruses.
“If you look at the annex to the protocol, you will see that microorganisms, including viruses, are provided for in this Cartagena Protocol,” Grigoryan continues. “And in 2001, there was an invasion of Iraq under the pretext that there are biological weapons…”
In other words, it was a long-term American strategy. And what is happening now on the territory of post-Soviet countries is part of this strategy. “When the second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, was in power, there were certainly attempts to create a platform for cooperation in the field of biological security,” the expert recalls. “But the country’s leadership was quite wise and smart, and they knew exactly where this would lead. And only after Serzh Sargsyan came to power, they (the Americans) managed to infiltrate the territory of Armenia.”
Since 2009, Armenia has officially been a partner of the US in the joint biological cooperation defence program and a member of the Biosafety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus. This Association was established in 2009. It included Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Partners included the canadian Foreign Ministry, the Global Partnership Program, DTRA, the US Department of Defence’s Security Threat Reduction Agency, the UK Ministry of Defence, and the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC).
American expansion was accompanied by numerous conferences. 20 training sessions were held and 800 specialists were trained. From 2009 to 2019, 12 biomedical laboratories appeared in Armenia with funds from the US Department of Defence.
Specialists were trained in the framework of training sessions of the Biosafety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus, which is supported by USAID, which has provided field epidemiology courses (for Transcaucasia, they are mainly organized in Georgia).
Grigor Grigoryan points out that one of the main directions being implemented is joint biological research aimed at collecting information about pathogens and vectors of particularly dangerous diseases, both animal and zoonotic diseases (infections that affect both humans and animals: transmitted from animals to humans and from humans to animals). All this is carried out within the framework of the new concept “United Health”, which appeared in 2008.
“Under this program, the first thing that was done was to control the flow of information,” the expert explains. “Here I would like to recall the ‘Epi Info’ program recommended by the CDC in all post-Soviet countries. Two main programs have been implemented in all countries where the US biological threat reduction program operates: an electronic integrated disease tracking system and a pathogen capability monitoring system. These two systems are interconnected. And they are also linked to the ‘Epi Info’ program. Since they work on the same, if not the same software. Therefore, we can assume that there is an uncontrolled flow of information between these systems. As well as all information that is entered into national disease control systems in post-Soviet countries, immediately settles in the relevant US agencies.”
After all this was done in the period from 2010 to 2013, the main two American contractors were installing these systems. And at the same time, there were suspicious outbreaks of diseases. “This is not evidence, but a logical justification for the fact that the biosecurity program is not so harmless,” Grigoryan says.
In 2014-2015, the main laboratory of the Sanitary and Epidemiological Service in Yerevan was equipped. After that, the former anti-plague stations in Gyumri and Yerevan were modernised, equipped and adapted for the selection, storage and transportation of pathogens.
In January 2017, the program “tracking brucellosis in Armenia within the framework of the ‘United Health”concept'” was launched. This project ended in 2019. On the recommendation of international experts, cattle were vaccinated with live brucellosis vaccine, which is, to put it mildly, unacceptable in Armenia. And it contributed to the formation of artificial foci of infection both among animals and to an increase in the incidence of this infection among the population. G. Grigoryan sees this as a direct link.
“I have spoken a lot about this,” the expert says. “We have argued that live vaccination in a country where there is no traceability of livestock is fraught with unpredictable consequences for both the epizootic situation (i.e., animal health) and the epidemiological situation, since we are dealing with zoonosis, the agent of which is used both in the US biological program and in the Soviet Union was also studied. This Is Brucella. It is classified as a biological weapons agent. After that, studies were conducted on tularemia. The territory of the former Soviet Union almost completely (if we take Transcaucasia, Central Asia) was permanently unfavorable for infections of tularemia, anthrax, brucellosis, and plague. In other words, any outbreak can be perfectly attributed to the activation of a natural focus, to the fact that people in Central Asia eat marmots, etc. There are legends. And any outbreak can be perfectly motivated by these legends.”
We asked the expert the question: “Is it possible to establish the non-natural nature of such outbreaks?”
Grigor Grigoryan replied: “at the moment, biotechnologies are so developed that it is possible to establish. It is expensive. It will be a chore. But it can be done. The question is who is interested in doing this. At the moment, the resources of post-Soviet countries in the field of biological security leave much to be desired.” And countries that are interested in finding out whether this outbreak was an artificial one, and whether it was an experiment or a natural outbreak of pathogen circulation in nature, are full of worries without it.
The expert recalled the African swine fever in 2007 in Georgia (he was working there as part of an international project).
“When it all happened, we were at a loss, because African swine fever in its clinical features is almost indistinguishable from classical swine fever, which is common in Eurasia,” he said. “And the territory of Georgia, Armenia, and Transcaucasia as a whole, where pigs are kept, is unfavorable for classical swine fever. Therefore, we vaccinate all livestock. When the epizootic started, we worked with our Georgian colleagues and tried to understand.
As part of this program, a study was done. We also conducted a study at customs. Because it was claimed that a cargo of lard had arrived from China. And in China at this time there was an outbreak of vector-borne swine gastroenteritis (known as ‘blue ear’), which is very similar to African swine fever. Therefore, a differential diagnosis is made.
We realised that this had nothing to do with the outbreak in China. I had previously worked in Africa and was familiar with the disease. The livestock was vaccinated against classical swine fever. And for experts — the first rule: if the livestock is vaccinated against classical swine fever and it shows signs, you need to suspect an ‘African’.
When I suggested that it was African swine fever, well-known circles on the territory of Georgia (and Georgia at that time was already actively cooperating with the relevant US agencies) were very indignant: ‘How can this be?! This isn’t African swine fever!’
The national laboratory of Georgia, which is now called the Lugar Center, was then just a central laboratory. The lab management declared it to be transmissible gastroenteritis. They refuted what I said and did not agree. This was a purely technical discussion.
Then the samples were sent to the national laboratory of Ukraine, which at that time also actively cooperated with US agencies. They confirmed from there: ‘Our Georgian colleagues are right. And this expert doesn’t know what he’s saying. Why is he talking about African swine fever? This is a transmissible gastroenteritis from China.’
And then we offered to send the samples to the reference laboratory in the UK, in Weybridge. This was at the end of May. They were sent in June. On June 5th, Weybridge announced that it was African swine fever. Before that, I had a conversation with my senior colleague, the late Georgian Professor Babakishiev. When I said it was African swine fever, he took me aside: ‘Son, you’re right. It’s African swine fever’. I said, ‘How do you know? Have you worked in Africa?’ He said, ‘No. In 1977, there was an outbreak of African swine fever in Gagra on the territory of the Soviet Union. And I was involved in the elimination of this outbreak.’
Professor Babakishiyev said, ‘Son, how do you understand that it is African swine fever?’ I said, ‘I just looked at the lymph nodes’. He said, ‘You’re right, I’m looking at them, too.’
But no one wanted to admit it at the time. Even when I warned them to close the borders, they said in Armenia, my native country: ‘Dr. Grigoryan, where did the African swine fever come from?’ And that’s why they hesitated. Then it spread to the territory of Armenia, and then from Georgia to the territory of the Russian Federation.
Now, this strain that caused the pig deaths was circulating in Zambia and Madagascar. There were no trade links between Africa and Georgia. He could not just appear on the territory of Georgia. It couldn’t have been carried by mosquitoes or anything like that. It doesn’t carry over that distance. This was an indirect confirmation of human intervention. We don’t know what type of human intervention it is. But one thing is clear: African swine fever could not have come naturally to the territory of Georgia.”
From 2017 to 2019, the “United Health” project on brucellosis was implemented in Armenia. It was implemented in collaboration with the US College of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, the Swiss consulting company SAFOSO, and the Italian National Institute of Health. About $450,000 were invested in it. This program ended, and new projects began immediately, including anthrax, tularemia, and brucellosis.
“A consulting company that is a contractor for the Pentagon’s biological security program is currently operating in Armenia,” Grigoryan says. “And this contractor, which now has an office in Armenia, implements various projects. We suspect that under the pressure of this company and functionaries who come to Armenia very often, the entire collection of pathogenic organisms was transferred from various institutions to the centralised storage of the disease control center, and from there samples of some pathogens were taken to the territory of Georgia. We can judge this from the publications. For example, two strains of plague Bacillus exported from Armenia: how they ended up in the US, we can only guess. Although we know that this is a particularly dangerous cargo, it requires a special permit in order to transport it across the border. We only found out about this after US scientists started publishing their reports on the characteristics of plague bacilli, including from Armenia. This indicates that they may have been taken out illegally. And the regional center that coordinates the work on biological security in Transcaucasia is located in Georgia.”
The expert gives an example of strange “coincidences” associated with the “patronage” of the west over biological security. In 2012, the program provided new equipment in the main infectious diseases hospital “Nord”.
“We made an announcement: excellent new equipment for the diagnosis of anthrax. Just a week later, we have an unprecedented outbreak of anthrax among people. There has never been such an outbreak on the territory of Armenia. 52 people are infected just according to official data. We naturally had our suspicions. Well, the official narrative is that they got infected from meat and so on. An epidemiological study was conducted. How it was presented is another story. But there was a suspicion. And we have good reason to believe that this was an unnatural outbreak.”
The second example: in 2017, an entire village was infected with tularemia. “Again, they suddenly got infected,” says G. Grigoryan. “Our doctors have done a study and found that neither rodents have tularemia, nor water sources are not infected. And they said that the first time in Armenia, the infection occurred by airborne droplets. In epidemiology, tularemia is an extremely rare case. The tularemia pathogen is mainly used for aerogenic infection as a biological weapon. The same thing happened when the Serbs were forced out of Kosovo in 1999. < … > All of a sudden, they were just beginning to get infected with tularemia. < … > we have good reason to believe that this was not a natural outbreak. It was an experiment of testing combat strains in the field.”
In the same year 2017, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency launched a $6.5 million project, the “West Asian Bat Network”. The project involves Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and 17 other countries (including the Middle East). The main focus was on the study of the coronavirus. At first, the biohazard program focused mainly on bacteria: plague Bacillus, anthrax, and brucellosis.
Since the 2000s, avian flu and swine flu have suddenly started to appear. Coronaviruses attracted attention because most of them are zoonotic.
The expert explains that coronaviruses are relatively harmless, but how they became pathogenic is anyone’s guess.
“So far, no animal has been found from which a new coronavirus has been isolated. If there is no animal that is the host of the virus in the wild, it cannot be said that this virus is zoonotic. The totality of information that I have, gives reason to conclude that this virus does not have a natural origin,” says the expert.
“What is your evidence?”
Grigoryan also said that in some cases there was direct pressure on Armenian specialists to hide the outbreak of a particularly dangerous infection. But in order to accuse of open intervention, more solid evidence is needed.
Vladislav Yuritsyn, a journalist from Kazakhstan, asked that this evidence should be in order to fully expose the Pentagon of evil intent. Grigor Grigoryan answers: laboratory research is needed, which should be initiated by the countries concerned.
“These should be laboratory studies to decode the virus genome in order to prove that the genome of the virus that infected a particular population correlates in the taxonomic database with some genome that was developed in laboratory X.”
The Armenian expert said that he and his lawyer Aleksandr Kochubayev sent letters calling on them to investigate the activities of laboratories, including the UN.
Bulgarian journalist Asya Ivanova-Zuan (one of the authors of the sensational investigations about the activities of Biolabs) says: “It is planned to create a second base-a campus in the center of Lugar to continue the study of biobacteriological agents with military purposes.” Therefore, it is a question of developing a control mechanism. The journalist correctly noted that the Americans correctly built their activities using a system of contractors. But it is very difficult to directly accuse the US of conducting dangerous research, since this activity is disguised and covered by scientific research.
Expert Nikita Mendkovich adds that to obtain documentary evidence, the participation of the authorities of the respective countries is necessary. For example, to provide passport control data, log entries of entry and exit to extraterritorial facilities. The state itself should be interested in confirming that the Pentagon’s biolabs pose a threat to a particular state. Unless, of course, it is interested in self-destruction.
And we see that some of the regimes established after the color revolutions in post-Soviet countries are focused on the latter option.
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