Russian media and social media users allege that the Red Cross is involved in children’s organ trafficking. There is absolutely no evidence to support these allegations in the videos used to make these charges
At the end of May reports began appearing in Russian media and on the Telegram social media platform that more than a thousand medical records detailing children’s healthy organs but not containing any information about the children’s illnesses were found in Mariupol. “Red Cross employees did not care about the health of the children, but examined them for the presence of healthy organs,” the stories claim. The Spanish language edition of RT suggests that the organs detailed on the records “could be suitable for transplants.” The Investigative Committee of Russia, the country’s main federal investigating authority announced they are “studying these reports and will provide a criminal legal assessment.”
To show a connection between the Mariupol Red Cross and the crime of organ trafficking, pro-Kremlin bloggers and official Russian media issued several reports from the scene of the alleged crime. On May 29, the Telegram channel of Volodymyr Taranenko, the head of the so-called “People’s Squad” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic published a video filmed on the premises of the Mariupol Red Cross office. Shot at waist level, the grainy video shows armed men dressed in camouflage rummaging through a semi-destroyed office, looking at military ordnance books and examining files. One voice in particular claims a safe was found on the premises containing children’s medical records. The children were healthy, so why would the Red Cross be monitoring healthy children, a faceless voice asks on the video. No specific card is shown, no proof of any sort filmed. A folder with documents in plastic sheeting is presented as proof of an alleged virus/biological program. This 5:48 minute video was immediately picked up by pro-Kremlin Telegram channels with large followings (Voyna Isoriya Oruzhize, Siloviki) and became the source for Russian media publications accusing the International committee of the Red Cross of engaging in illegal organ trafficking. Russia’s Investigative Committee, the Russian equivalent of the FBI announced they are “studying the criminal deeds of the Kyiv regime and will provide a criminal legal assessment.” Lenta.ru, Izvestia, RT, RIA Novosti, NTV, Tsargrad and many other Russian media dutifully disseminated this fake story.
None of the stories provide any photos or video frames to support allegations of organ trafficking. The Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda does indicate in its report that there is no confirmation that the Mariupol office of the Red Cross was involved in children’s organ trafficking. This is not the only insinuation that pro-Kremlin media have directed at the Red Cross, they are also accused of being part of illegal biological laboratories and preparing chemical attacks, Izvestia in particular focused on this imaginary threat.
The International Committee of the Red Cross immediately reacted to these Russian media accusations, but the Russian media has completely ignore their response. In a March 31 statement published on the organization’s official website, the ICRC said: A video filmed in our Mariupol office now circulating in some media is filled with false claims and baseless assumptions about the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)…. The video also alleges that the ICRC has a stack of medical records of children. The ICRC has not collected any such records. The video also insinuates that the ICRC is involved in organ trafficking. This is another unequivocally false allegation.”
“The ICRC’s goals are purely humanitarian in nature. We face challenges operating in areas affected by armed conflict, yes, but our work is designed to alleviate suffering, nothing more. We have faith that most people will recognize false and hasty claims when they see them,” said Jason Straziuso, an ICRC spokesman.
Red Cross representatives also called the Russian accusations that the Red Cross was creating biological laboratories and preparing a chemical attack ridiculous. Red Cross workers left the Mariupol office on March 15 and do not know how the premises were used after that and by whom. At the end of March the ICRC Mariupol warehouse was destroyed by Russian shelling.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the oldest and largest humanitarian organizations in the world. This is not the first time that the Red Cross has been baselessly accused of child organ trafficking. In October 2021, the odious anti-vaccination blogger Ostap Stakhiv, who was later accused by the SBU of trying to overthrow the constitutional order under the leadership of his Russian curators, stated that representatives of the Danish Red Cross collected personal medical data on students at Lviv school No. 91, also allegedly with the aim of selling children for their organs. At that time, the Red Cross Society of Ukraine, in a StopFake commentary, stated that their volunteers had never collected data on the health status of children. During events with school students, data such as the last name, first name of the participant, date of birth and contact information are collected (below is an example of a typical Red Cross records questionnaire).
Russian propaganda constantly attack international organizations working in Ukraine with the aim of discrediting them. Such a discreditation campaign has been directed at the OSCE Ukrainian Special Monitoring Mission, which has been involved in monitoring the Russia-Ukraine war since 2014. StopFake debunked Russian disinformation alleging that the OSCE was providing communications and intelligence to the Ukrainian military at Azovstal and helped guide Ukrainian fire onto Russian positions.