“Objectively” about child organ trafficking: blurred video and insinuations as evidence


Original article (in Serbian) was published on 20/06/2022

“The Ukrainian Red Cross trafficked in children’s organs”, the newspaper Objektiv published in its today’s print edition, referring to the words of the head of the pro-Russian non-governmental organization Narodna Svita, Vladimir Taranenko, stationed in Donetsk. Although Taranenko himself said that “it is still too early to draw accusatory conclusions” about this, his words were not included in the text, nor was the refutation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was published at the end of May.

And what was found in the text of Objektiv?

The main premise from the title and opening paragraph of Objektiv is actually based on a video that Taranenko published on his Telegram account on May 29 of this year. In the video’s description, after emphasizing that “it is still too early to draw accusatory conclusions”, it is stated that the Ukrainian Red Cross has medical records for more than 1,000 children whose organs have been marked as healthy. It is also added that Taranenko’s organization in Mariupol found instructions for using weapons, including weapons intended for children. All this is conveyed by Objektiv.

It is a video slightly shorter than six minutes, in which you can see armed men rummaging through documentation in a destroyed building, which in the description of the video is claimed to be “the base of the Red Cross in Mariupol”.

Is there any evidence for the claims made in the video?

The majority of the video released by Taranenko is blurry, so there are no clear images of the exterior of the office where the video was made, nor the documents or medical records mentioned in the video’s description. This is also pointed out by the fact-checking web portal Logically, which states in its text about this case that the video does not show “personnel who would confirm the content of the documents” and that “the voice commenting on the recording claims that the medical documentation seems suspicious because it has data on healthy children and parents, but it remains unclear why this would be suspicious”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reacted to the statements made only a few days after the publication of the disputed video. In the announcements on the main website of the committee and on the website of the Ukrainian office of this organization, the statements from the video were dismissed as false. In a press release, the Ukrainian office of the ICRC confirmed that the video was recorded in their office in Mariupol but drew attention to the fact that this organization does not have children’s health records.

Also, the ICRC in Ukraine states that the accusations of organ trafficking are “unequivocally false”, while the alleged “instructions on the use of weapons” are actually publicly available material of the ICRC, which is distributed in various languages ​​and serves to “raise public awareness about the dangers of mines and other explosive devices”.

The ICRC also points out that “in recent years, it has distributed incubators as part of agro-economic programs to help families raise poultry, with full transparency”. Although the video mentions documents about these incubators as another suspicious phenomenon and indication of organ trafficking, the ICRC states that “any hint that these incubators (for poultry) could be used for anything else is meaningless”.

What other sources does Objektiv refer to?

Objektiv only talks about the statements from the title in the first two paragraphs of its text. Most of the text is adapted from the claims published on the web portal of the Russian Institute for Oriental Studies New eastern outlook (New eastern outlook), and the web portal Frontier post (The Frontier post). Both texts talk about the phenomenon of organ trade and the connection of Ukraine with this black market, and in those texts, there are certain insinuations that this market could flourish due to the state of war in this country. However, none of the mentioned texts links the Red Cross with organ trafficking, which is highlighted in Objektiv’s article in the title and introduction of the text.

Objektiv itself states in the subtitle that “Russian investigative committee is investigating allegations” about the involvement of a humanitarian organization in organ trafficking, which was also reported by the Russian state agency RT, but at the same time, in bold red and white letters on a black background, in the headline, it claims that this illegal activity of the Red Cross has already happened.