Pro-Government “I Ucnobi” Amplifies the Kremlin Conspiracy about the Alleged Organ Trafficking in Ukraine

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Reading Time: 7 minutes


According to a story published on the pro-government Facebook page “I Ucnobi” on July 16, 2023, as a result of legislative changes in Ukraine, the sale of organs in the country has become easier, thus “opening the way” for organ trade abroad, for which a special database is being created. According to the story, on December 16, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved Law No. 5831, as a result of which Ukrainians, including children, can become donors without notarization and without parental consent; while according to the Law adopted on April 14, 2022, transplantology in Ukraine was exempted from VAT.

The story also includes a comment of Serbian lawyer Goran Petrovijevic. According to him, in the past, the activities of black transplantologists on the territory of Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Africa, and now Ukraine, would not have been possible without the support of NATO. According to the story, organ trafficking is taking place against the background of war, and with changes in Law in Ukraine, the right to remove an organ from a patient is given to “private control that cannot be determined”, and the removal of an organ from a patient is done with the consent of the doctor or the person who takes responsibility for the funeral.

On July 17, this part of the story was also published by the Facebook page “Shiin Evropisken.”

On June 15, 2023, the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Maria Zakharova, voiced the same assertions about changes in Ukrainian legislation in the field of transplantology. According to Zakharova, Kyiv pays the aid fee to the West through the bodies of its citizens. Zakharova’s comment was widely covered by Kremlin propaganda media (1, 2, 3).

Screenshot 2023 07 24 144603 Pro-Government “I Ucnobi” Amplifies the Kremlin Conspiracy about the Alleged Organ Trafficking in Ukraine Screenshot 2023 07 24 144609 Pro-Government “I Ucnobi” Amplifies the Kremlin Conspiracy about the Alleged Organ Trafficking in Ukraine

The information about the changes in the legislation of Ukraine related to the field of transplantology is spread in a manipulative manner and develops a conspiracy theory. In fact: 1) the Law adopted in December 2021 canceled the need to notarize a person’s written consent to donation, although the consent itself is still necessary. In addition, in Ukraine, there is a presumption of refusal to donate organs after death; 2) only adult, able-bodied citizens can consent to the donation of organs and biological material during their lifetime. The consent of a parent or legal guardian is necessary for the donation of organs of a minor after death; 3) The Law adopted in April 2022 exempts certain procedures related to transplant surgery from VAT, but this change does not promote “organ trafficking,” which is prohibited by Law and is punishable.

  • What do the legislative changes adopted in December 2021 mean and how is the declaration of consent for organ donation made in Ukraine?

Legislative changes related to organ transplantation in Ukraine began in 2019. The process of reforms is related to the approximation of this field to European standards. First of all, it should be noted that in Ukraine, there is a presumption of refusal regarding the donation of organs after death, and according to Ukrainian legislation, transplantation of human organs without appropriate consent is prohibited. If a person wants their organs to be used for transplantation after death, written consent is required during their lifetime. In the event that the person did not refuse organ transplantation during their lifetime, the consent of the deceased’s spouse, closest relative or the person responsible for the funeral of the deceased is required for organ transplantation after death. In December 2021, amendments to the Law on the Use of Human Anatomical Materials for Transplantation abolished the need to notarize a person’s written consent to donation, but the consent itself is still necessary.

As for minors, according to Ukrainian legislation, organ transplantation of a minor after death is possible only with the permission of the parents or legal guardians.

Screenshot 2023 07 24 144616 Pro-Government “I Ucnobi” Amplifies the Kremlin Conspiracy about the Alleged Organ Trafficking in Ukraine

According to the same legislation, consent to the donation of organs and biological material during life can be given only by adult, able-bodied citizens. A minor can be a donor of hematopoietic stem cells (bone marrow), but only in certain exceptional cases, for example, when there is no adult donor; when the recipient is a biological sibling; when donation is necessary to save human life. In such cases, consent to the donation of a minor under the age of 14 can be given by his parents/legal guardian, and in the case of minors under the age of 14-18, the consent of both the parents/guardian and the minor themselves is required.

Notably, the Law on transplantology prohibits the donation of human organs after death in certain cases. According to Article 17, Clause 4 of the Law, in case of death, it is prohibited to use organs and anatomical material for transplantation of orphaned children, children deprived of care, disabled persons and unidentified persons. It is also forbidden to transplant organs of those who died during military operations.

Screenshot 2023 07 24 144626 Pro-Government “I Ucnobi” Amplifies the Kremlin Conspiracy about the Alleged Organ Trafficking in Ukraine

Based on the fact that according to the Law, the person responsible for the burial of the deceased can give consent to the use of organs for transplantation, at various times there were claims that the commander or any official body can give consent to the donation of the organs of the military, which is not true, and the question of consent does not even stand when the organs of those killed in military operations are used for transplantation, as this procedure is prohibited a priori by Law.

It is unclear what is implied in the story of “I Ucnobi” when it says that the organ removal was entrusted to “unidentifiable private control” – the transplant operation is a complex medical procedure that is funded by the state in Ukraine, and donors and recipients are selected through a special registry. With the legislative changes, certain procedures have been indeed simplified in several directions – for example, transplant surgery can be performed in all hospitals that have a special license and the necessary equipment. Until 2019, in addition to the license, it was necessary to include hospitals in an emergency list and this list had to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. There is also a unified, modern database, which was created to systematize information about donors and recipients. However, it has nothing to do with “organ trade.” Organ trade is prohibited and punishable by Law, and the new legislative changes do not change this fact.

Transplantation procedures are based on the Unified State Transplantation Information System (EDIST) for organ and tissue transplantation. This system includes information about people who want their organs to be used for donation after death, as well as information about living donors and recipients. Such a system contributes to the transparency of the process. ЕDIST is effective from January 1, 2021. Adult citizens of Ukraine can apply to transplant coordinators who have access to the EDIST system, or use Diia – an electronic portal that allows citizens to receive the necessary documentation and state services electronically, to consent to a posthumous transplant. It should be noted that consent to transplantation can be withdrawn at any time.

As for the issue of the sale of organs from Ukraine abroad, which is not confirmed by evidence, it should be noted that the transportation of the organ is a difficult logistical process, since the organs remain suitable for transplantation for a limited time, and in this regard, in the conditions of war, if not abroad, problems arise even when the organ is transferred to the territory of Ukraine. Aviation is not allowed to transport organs for transplantation in wartime conditions. During the war, there were also cases when a team of doctors traveled with the recipient to the district where the donor was located, so that the transplant operation could be carried out in the same place.

  • What do the legislative changes related to VAT of April 2022 Entail?

In April 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine did pass legislative amendments exempting medical procedures and services related to transplant surgery from VAT. The purpose of this change is to increase the accessibility of the transplant procedure for citizens of Ukraine and does not in any way promote the export of organs abroad. It should also be noted that as a result of the removal of VAT, the processes related to transplantation operations will be reflected in state costs, since the operation is free for patients. Prior to the legislative change related to VAT, in January 2022, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, signed a law under which all transplant operations are financed by the state and free for citizens. Within the framework of the same Law, the selection procedure of the donor and the recipient was also established, which is performed automatically by EDIST, taking into account the relevant criteria, and it is free from human intervention. Accordingly, the transplantation process has become even more transparent.

The legislative reforms implemented in the field of transplantology serve the modernization and development of the field, and not the promotion of organ trade in any way. Various false claims and conspiracy theories about organ trafficking in Ukraine, in general, have been circulating for years and are part of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign. Disinformation that the organs of dead soldiers are traded in Ukraine is especially common. Regarding this topic, “Myth Detector” verified a number of false claims. See more:

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Country: Russia, Ukraine

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