Public Health Fakes: In Kyiv Territorial Recruitment Center, a veterinarian is providing the fitness assessments. Issue 122

Public Health Fakes: In Kyiv Territorial Recruitment Center, a veterinarian is providing the fitness assessments. Issue #122

Photo: unsplash.com / National Cancer Institute
16 May 2024
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Russians combine disinformation to discredit both the medical system and mobilization. They claim that due to a shortage of personnel, the Territorial Recruitment and Social Support Centers are forced to hire veterinarians to conduct military medical examinations. Alongside this fabrication, they have resurrected the “evergreen” theme of the “trafficking” of Ukrainians in the West. For instance, based on the fiction of former CIA agent Larry Johnson, they allege that Ukrainian children abroad are supposedly being sold for organs.

With the support of the USAID Health Reform Support project, VoxCheck analyzes and refutes public health narratives spread in the information space of Ukraine, Belarus, and russia on a weekly basis.

Disinformation: In the Kyiv Territorial Recruitment Center, a veterinarian is providing the assessments of fitness for military service

Information is being spread online claiming that due to a shortage of qualified personnel, Territorial Recruitment Centers are forced to hire veterinarians.

Screenshot of the post

What’s the reality?

Oksana Volodymyrivna Politienko does indeed work as a surgeon but at the Kyiv veterinary clinic “Lessi”. It’s likely that a photo of the door to her office with the sign “Surgeon” was taken there. 

However, the situation where a Territorial Recruitment and Social Support Center hired a veterinarian instead of a doctor is impossible. Territorial Recruitment and Social Support Centers are not involved in hiring medical personnel to conduct military medical examinations at all. In April 2023, the government adopted a resolution to implement a new package within the Medical Guarantees Program called “Medical Examination of Persons Conducted at Territorial Recruitment and Social Support Centers.”

So now, military medical commissions for conscripts are formed by involving doctors from civilian healthcare institutions. The number of commissions, taking into account the current workload, is determined by the leadership of regional and Kyiv city military administrations. In turn, the National Health Service of Ukraine contracts with these institutions and ensures payment for the services provided. As of May 2024, 492 contracts have been concluded with medical institutions across Ukraine under this service package, including 13 in Kyiv. There are no veterinary clinics among them.

During a state of war, the composition of the military medical commissions includes a surgeon, therapist, neurologist, psychiatrist, ophthalmologist, and otolaryngologist. Referrals for other specialists are provided as needed. Under the Medical Guarantees Program, conscripts receive the following services free of charge during the military medical commissions:

  • Medical examination by a multidisciplinary team of military medical commission doctors: assessment of fitness for military service, provision of necessary consultations and examinations to establish, clarify, or refute a diagnosis, issuance of appropriate referrals, and preparation of medical conclusions regarding the individual’s health status.
  • Conducting analyses and instrumental examinations.
  • Assessment of the individual’s vaccination status and, if necessary, referral for vaccination according to the Vaccination Schedule.

Source: Regulation on Military Medical Examination in the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Disinformation: Western countries are trafficking Ukrainian children — former CIA agent Larry Johnson

Kremlin channels are once again inventing fakes about the healthcare system in Ukraine, particularly regarding organ transplantation. They claim that former CIA agent Larry Johnson stated on the Judging Freedom YouTube channel that messages are coming from Ukraine alleging that Western countries are trafficking children. Allegedly, Ukrainian children are being sold abroad for organs or subjected to sexual slavery.

What’s the reality?

On May 6, 2024, an interview with the so-called expert Larry Johnson was released on the YouTube channel “Judge Napolitano — Judging Freedom”. He indeed claimed that the West is selling Ukrainian children, where their organs are then removed, or they are sold into sexual slavery.

Larry Johnson, who spread this information, is not actually an authoritative source. He systematically discredits Ukraine on the international stage: talking about the “destruction” of all air defense systems in Ukraine, so-called “mercenaries,” and stating that the war can only end on Russia’s terms. The YouTube channel “Judge Napolitano — Judging Freedom,” where he was a guest, is hosted by Andrew Napolitano. He also supports and spreads Kremlin propaganda in the West. As far back as 2014, Napolitano stated that the US should not oppose Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and in 2023, he accused the US of a “direct war with Russia.”

Previously, the Commissioner for Human Rights in Ukraine mentioned isolated cases where children were illegally attempted to be taken out of Ukraine for sale. However, we have not found any reports from the Ukrainian side about cases of selling Ukrainian children specifically in Western countries. Furthermore, there have been no confirmations of human trafficking for organ sales. In previous episodes, we also debunked fakes about the “sale” of organs of Ukrainian military personnel and claims that Ukraine is a leader in global “black transplantology.”

At the same time, the European Group of Experts on Action against Human Trafficking (GRETA) mentioned in its latest report for 2023 that in 2022 in the Netherlands, two Ukrainian women were likely to become victims of sexual exploitation. However, it is not known whether minors were among the victims. In Poland, 5 cases related to alleged cases of human trafficking were also investigated. It is about two 17-year-old Ukrainian girls who were forced to provide sexual services. Only one case was definitely confirmed. Also, the report does not indicate whether there have been cases of selling children for organs in EU countries. Larry Johnson himself does not provide any confirmation of his statements.

The Group of Experts emphasizes that the number of confirmed cases of trafficking involving Ukrainian refugees in the West remains low. In several countries — Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Italy, and others — at the time of the report’s release, no cases of trafficking involving Ukrainian refugees, including children, were registered at all. At the same time, identifying victims is a challenging process.

Moreover, issues of child trafficking and sexual slavery are widespread worldwide, not just in the West. Overall, there are approximately 40 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, including children.

In addition, international organizations are striving to prevent human trafficking. In the same GRETA report, it is noted that in Estonia, experts distributed leaflets among Ukrainian refugees about the risks of human trafficking, organized seminars, and sessions on this topic. Other institutions, such as UNICEF, care for Ukrainian children in the West. For example, in the first two months of 2024, over 23,000 children and their caregivers abroad received access to mental health support programs. Additionally, more than 273,000 Ukrainian children received education. To learn more about medical assistance for Ukrainian refugees in specific EU countries, you can visit the website of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Source: UNICEF

This information piece was produced with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided on behalf of the people of the United States of America. This article’s content, which does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, is the sole responsibility of Deloitte Consulting under contract #72012118C00001.

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