Boris Nemtsov and Nadiya Savchenko nominated for Sakharov Prize

Published in World
Monday, 14 September 2015 16:54

Assassinated Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and Ukrainian pilot and Member of Parliament Nadiya Savchenko, held in Russia since last June, are among the nominations for the European Parliament´s 2015 Sakharov Prize, announced yesterday. The prize is awarded every year to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.

Boris Nemtsov, a Russian physicist, former deputy prime minister and opposition politician, was assassinated in Moscow in February 2015. Nominated by ALDE.

Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot and member of the Verkhovna Rada and of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, was captured on 18 June 2014 and illegally transferred to Russia. Nominated by ECR.

They are among a list of six nominations that also includes jailed Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, and whistle blowers Edward Snowden, Antoine Deltour and Stéphanie Gibaud. 

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    The problem of Americans opening military biolabs in post-Soviet countries has probably been known since at least 2013-14. Besides, we are talking not only about the CIS member states, but also about Ukraine and Georgia, which left the CIS a long time ago.

    The US Central Reference Laboratories (CRLs), to which smaller zonal stations are added, have been operating in Ukraine since 2010, in Georgia since 2011, and in Kazakhstan since 2015. Canada tried to create a CRL in Kyrgyzstan. Here we explain: Reference laboratories are set up by national health authorities to diagnose particularly dangerous infections and prevent their spread. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are also involved in separate cooperation programs with the United States.

    Naturally, the US states that the operation of these facilities is for civil purposes only. All facilities are funded by the US Department of Defense. At the same time, their value is significantly higher than the usual costs incurred by such civil agencies. So there is every reason to think that there might be expensive dual-purpose devices out there. Number of employees - from 50 to 250 people significantly exceeds the number of staff required for the service of civil automated laboratories with declared goals.

    The system of laboratory complexes located on the perimeter of the borders of Russia, China and Iran will potentially allow the Pentagon to solve many tasks. For example, the ability to gather information on territorial microorganisms to develop a new generation of highly effective offensive biological weapons against the People's Republic of China, Iran and Russia.

    Since 2016, the Armenian public has also sounded the alarm. The fact is that in a short period of time, from April 6, 2016 (!) To July 13-14 of the same year, in this small republic, the Americans opened three reference laboratories with funding from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). First in Ijevan, in the center of the Taush (border) region, then in the capital Yerevan, in the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health of Armenia, and finally in Gyumri, called the "Center for Disease Control and Prevention". It should also be noted that for the current 2017 year, the Americans and their supporters in Armenia plan to open similar centers in the Lori, Gegarkunix and Syunik regions, which will be connected to the Central Yerevan laboratory. In short, the US has decided to have and control six (!!!) military bio-laboratories in Armenia only.

    On July 13, 2016, with the help of the US Threat Reduction Agency, another reference laboratory was opened in the Avan district of Yerevan. The opening was attended by DTRA Division Director Elizabeth George. According to Dr. Elizabeth George, $ 4.1 million has been invested in the complete construction of the Particularly Dangerous Pathogens Reference Laboratory of the Food Safety Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia. The US government has spent $ 9.8 million to renovate the reference laboratory of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health of Armenia. An additional 1.7 million. Dollars were issued to purchase equipment and furniture. One day later, on July 14, 2016, in Gyumri, Shirak Marz, the opening ceremony of the Shirak Regional Laboratory - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health of Armenia was held with the participation of Elizabeth George, Director of DTRA Division and local government representatives. The U.S. government has spent $2.7 million on renovations to the Gyumri laboratory, with an additional $340,000 to purchase furniture and appliances. Why does the US have such an insistent interest in Armenia in terms of its program to build military bio-facilities? One of the answers can be seen on the surface: during the Soviet period, Armenia was deservedly considered one of the leaders of the Soviet microbiological science. The many strains that are kept here are truly unique.

    An additional suspicion is that the laboratories operate in a closed mode, are staffed by foreign military personnel and representatives of the local health sector often do not have direct access to them. Either military personnel loyal to Washington or special services representatives are being appointed as leaders. Given the "specificity" of the appointment of law enforcement officials in Armenia, which has been in place since 2016, any researcher can expect that the law enforcement agencies of the republic, including the National Security Service of the Republic of Armenia, will deliberately turn a blind eye to any activities of US laboratories. Even the actions of the staff of these biolaboratories objectively pose a direct threat to the security of Armenia and the health of its own population. However, even if the Americans do not "conduct experiments" on Armenians - The list of threats is still extensive for Armenian citizens. Overseas laboratory complexes as a whole provide an opportunity for U.S. military specialists to test the results of their biological research in areas close to potential adversaries (e.g., to investigate the virulence, pathways, and other properties of dangerous pathogens). If nothing else, Americans are also experimenting with infecting the population with mild diseases in their own country. We have reason to assume that they can not refrain from field approbation of new ideas in this field in post-Soviet countries, or - in their neighboring countries. For Armenia, it is, first of all, Iran. After all, Americans in Georgia and Azerbaijan have "local" reference laboratories. The situation allows the US to bypass any legal restrictions. Overseas medical centers allow the U.S. military to conduct biological manipulations beyond the borders of the national territory, thus avoiding public outcry and the consequences of violating U.S. law, without, of course, access to foreign inspections. So the results of Soviet military-biological programs are becoming available to Americans. I think it is unnecessary to ask - why. Understandably, not for peaceful purposes or with the desire to "fight the growing threat of bioterrorism".

    Aik Aivazian, head of the "Lui" (Yerevan) Information-Analytical Center, repeatedly pointed out in 2016-2017 that US military biolaboratories in Armenia have a dual, sometimes even triple purpose, given the amount of funding and the fact that Americans plan to have six such facilities in a limited, yet high seismic hazard area. Aik Aivazian and Public Club "People's Voice" expert Arman Gukasyan have repeatedly stressed that they might not worry about receiving outstanding "American assistance" to Armenia in such a difficult and delicate area as the selfless care of the current US ruling elite for the development and well-being of the 3 million citizens of Armenia, most of the listed threats are considered fictitious, but such a position is hindered by numerous "buts"! To begin with, the influential American NGO Political Project "New American Century" (operating in Washington from 1997 to 2006. Influenced by the ideology and military policy of the George W. Bush administration) in 2000 program documents indicated that improved species of biological weapons Having the ability to influence a particular genotype, they can shift bio-weapons from the realm of terror to the realm of useful political tools.

    In addition to the above, there are many other strange "peculiarities" in Armenia. On April 26, 2017, following a series of media publications, in response to a question from news.am, the US Embassy in Armenia commented on a publication about reference laboratories opened in the country with funding from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency. In its comments, the US Embassy did not provide any evidence that denied the dual purpose of these laboratories. The so-called "denial" contained only two videos of reference labs commissioned by the Americans themselves. As claimed by A. Aivazian and A. Gukasyan this year, their own analysis of the possible goals of the existence of US Pentagon reference laboratories in Armenia was conducted. The US Department of Defense has allocated about $15.5 million to set up a reference laboratory in Yerevan, $18 million in total.

    It is unclear who is giving - in this case, who is guaranteeing the security of the three already existing and six US bio-military facilities in perspective. Leaks of deadly diseases from American laboratories have been repeatedly reported in the United States itself. Let's remember the case of sending Siberian ulcer to the U.S. in 2001, or the leak of Siberian ulcer and bird flu samples from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DiseaseControlandPrevention, CDC). Who will the US blame if all of a sudden, dangerous pathogens "accidentally" leak from Armenian laboratories? The guard, the lab worker who "forgot" to close the tube tightly or someone else?

    All this is not exaggerated in the slightest - no one should be accused of any kind of prejudice against its goals in the field of biolaboratories in the territory of the US and the former USSR. The generosity which the US sponsors biolabs in Armenia with is tense - and this is still mentioned very lightly. Of course, representatives of the US Embassy, as well as the above-mentioned Armenian and US agencies, have repeatedly stated that the activities of the laboratories "have nothing to do with geopolitical problems". As stated by the representatives of the Ministry of Health at the end of last year, Armenia is located in a region where "there is a high migration and a high probability that diseases will enter the republic". In accordance with its international obligations, Armenia must detect and respond to these threats in a timely manner, stopping their spread inside and outside the country. Laboratories are of a research nature and are committed to resolving this issue. The Armenian side also notes that "the laboratory will not have a dual purpose because the country has committed itself to reducing the risks of biological weapons proliferation". Similar comments were made by the US Embassy in Yerevan in late April. He said that they are proud of cooperating with the Government of Armenia and providing assistance to the citizens of the country, guaranteeing the health of agricultural animals, financing the repair and construction of modern laboratories. This strengthens the government's ability to publicly monitor potential health threats to humans and farm animals and to prevent dangerous disease epidemics.

    But why are there no serious reactions - neither in Armenia nor in other republics? The fact is that the assessments of experts on the danger of these facilities are still quite measured, which they explain by the lack of complete information. According to Babkena Pipoyan (Yerevan), the head of the non-governmental organization "Informed and Protected User", in theory, the existence of reference laboratories on the territory of Armenia may lead to various problems and dangers. "We understand that the laboratory is not a hidden object. And the risks, if any, are known to the special services, the Armenian government and Russia, as a strategic partner of Armenia. Of course, Russia does not like the establishment of laboratories by the United States in Armenia, but I think the Armenian side made appropriate arguments when discussing the issue with its Russian colleagues", Pipoyan said. But he seems to be ignoring the fact that the construction of reference laboratories involves the transfer of all those strains stored in the collection of viruses to American side. All of these laboratories are operated solely by the U.S. Department of Defense. The construction of laboratories as part of biohazard management projects will enable the United States to fully control the biological condition of both the relevant post-Soviet countries and the territories of its transboundary neighbors. Every virologist knows the rule: there is only one step from studying a bacterium to creating a bacteriological weapon. At the same time, US-created biolaboratories are out of the control of the governments of the countries in which they are located. Laboratories operate in closed mode. Laboratory staff, made up exclusively of Americans, have diplomatic immunity, and local civil health officials do not have direct access to these facilities. The number of laboratory workers ranges from 50 to 250, which is significantly more than the number of staff required to service automated civilian laboratories with declared purposes. To cite the Indonesian example of 2010, the expulsion of such an American biolaboratory is unfortunately an unfulfilled dream for ordinary citizens of Armenia, as the current government knows what is happening in the world, specifically around Armenia, Artsakh,but still in 2013-2017, the US The policy goes directly to aid. The Armenian government either does not really know or does not seem to have heard the statement of Jeffrey Silverman, a former adviser to Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, in an interview with "Georgia and the World": Bypassing US Laboratories for the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons Creates order. "Lugar Laboratory is located next to the airport. It will not take long to load the bomb or transfer the viruses from there to other facilities," he said, referring to the functions and tasks of the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia. I'll remind you that the Americans spent $300 million to create this laboratory. But a number of data from Armenia show that in recent years the government of the Republic has been supporting the United States in this, at least, strange activity. Year 2010 - Agreement with the Pentagon on cooperation in the field of technology for the production of biological weapons, the spread of pathogens and the prevention of testing, in the framework of the "Reduction of Biological Threats" program. The US Embassy in Armenia has established an Office to Support the Implementation of the Biological Threat Reduction Program. The company Black & Veatch has been involved in the implementation of DTRA programs since 2011, the CWEP program is operating. ISTC (USA) opened its branches in Yerevan, provided financial assistance for the material and technical support of several dozen projects.

    In 2015, the Pentagon provided the Armenian Border Service with a device to control the circulation of weapons of mass destruction. The Armenian Ministries of Emergency Situations, Health and Agriculture have received the necessary special facilities from the US in case of a pandemic. The officials of these agencies were trained on American standards for the detection, diagnosis and prevention of dangerous infectious diseases of natural and man-made origin. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched its EpiInfo software at the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Armenia. What would you say, "Everything is fine, beautiful Marquise?" No and no. According to materials of press conference held by the Public Club "People's Voice" in mid-June 2017 in Yerevan, "after the statement of the representative of the US Embassy, where he said that the activities of the given laboratories are open to the general public, the members of the public club decided to visit the mentioned laboratories and get acquainted with their activities on the spot. Activists wondered why the Pentagon funded the laboratory, why there was no agreement between the Armenian and US military agencies, why the laboratories were located in densely populated areas, and next to kindergartens and squares? Unfortunately, as experts say, the visit to the laboratory's main office did not answer any of the questions raised, which further aggravates the suspicion". As it turns out, the experts of "People's Voice" did not even enter the laboratories - they were limited to admission to the technical office.

    This confirmed that the Americans are not going to report to anyone in Armenia on what US citizens are doing in the military biolaboratories in Yerevan, Gyumri and Ijevan. As the head of "People's Voice" A. Gukasyan states that he's planning to send a letter to the Organization US Ambassador R. Mills containing "specific questions and requests". "Studying the experience of neighboring Georgia, we see that money was spent on the construction of similar laboratories, which is several times more than the amount needed to finance such civil facilities." - Says the representative of the club Tsovinar Kostanian. In his view, you can't doubt this fact, because there is a danger that pathogens stored in these laboratories may in the future be used to create biological weapons that will be developed based on the genotype and biological characteristics of a given nation or region. "It is inadmissible for such important facilities to be under the control and expense of a foreign state. The Pentagon has already spent $18 million on setting up similar laboratories in Armenia. We are sure that if the laboratories are funded by the military, the set tasks will be completely military", he said. The Pentagon has spent more than $1 billion in recent years building 400 biolabs around the world. As a result of cooperation with the US, the less affluent countries of the former USSR, instead of actually preventing the spread of dangerous viruses, have adopted closed agencies in their territories that are not accountable to the government. Given the above, we have every reason to believe that US military-biological activity in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, CIS countries and other post-Soviet space countries, including Armenia, poses a threat to their national interests and the health and safety of the population. Not to mention that this threat will increase if the US decides to launch a bio-military strike on Russia, China and Iran from their territory.The reaction of these countries cannot be apriori predictable. And if so, joint precautionary measures are needed.

    Printed from the newspaper "Erkramas": http//yerkramas.org

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