The state security Committee of South Ossetia reported that “the Lugar center for public health has been showing an increased interest in the population of South Ossetian bats since 2012.
It is indicated that in 2018, the defense threat reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense (DTRA) and the Lugar Center allegedly began implementing a project “on bats and coronaviruses.”
“The program is designed for 5 years and is implemented with the help of the NGO Eco Health Alliance,” the Ministry added.
The KGB of South Ossetia drew attention to the Lugar Center’s interest in South Ossetian bats after detaining 47-year-old Georgian citizen Khvich Mgebrishvili in the vicinity of the village of Adzysar on July 3 for violating the state border.
The man said that he wanted to get the so-called bat cocoons in South Ossetia for subsequent sale in Georgia at a price of 5 thousand dollars per piece.
The KGB of South Ossetia explained that “the sharp-eared bats that live in the RUO, like the rest of the bats, are viviparous and do not build any nests, cocoons or other shelters.” In addition, the sharp-eared moth is listed in the Red book of South Ossetia, so its capture and export are qualified in accordance with the Criminal code and entail a penalty of imprisonment.
Georgia denied the charges. The head of the national center for disease control of the Ministry of the health of the country Amiran Gamkrelidze said that reports about the interest of Lugar’s laboratory in South Ossetian bats are “lies and provocation.”
According to him, the laboratory has a special group that collects certain samples, but the accusations from Tskhinval that a Georgian citizen detained in South Ossetia was engaged in catching bats that could later get into Lugar’s laboratory are provocative.
At the same time, the First Deputy Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Georgy Volsky, called South Ossetia’s statements “stupid” and added that discrediting Lugar’s laboratory is allegedly in the interests of Russia.