Russia’s propaganda organ RT is disseminating a report claiming that Ukrainians are traveling to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic from Ukraine controlled Donbas territories for free medical treatment. The report claims that it is difficult to obtain medical care in Ukraine, particularly free care, which is readily available in separatist controlled territories.

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The myth of free medical care in the self-proclaimed republics has been debunked more than once; social media is rife with local residents complaining about the high costs of care and medicines and having to actually pay for care.

RT’s three minute story opens with an unnamed doctor from Donetsk talking about the launch of a humanitarian medical aid program aimed at “reuniting the people of Donbas”. 24 patients are on the waiting list for the program. Two patients with blotted out faces attest that they came to the occupied territories for treatment because in Ukraine “you will not be helped, not even if you’re dying on the spot.

NTV, Sputnik, Politnavigator and other sites all ran this fake story.

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Much has been written about the sorry state of medicine in the occupied territories. Local residents point out that bribes, high costs of drugs and a perpetual lack of qualified physicians are daily problems facing patients. Wounded separatists do not get needed medical care resulting in a very high fatality rate in Donbas. Social media meanwhile is busy with comments from residents of occupied Donbas who have seen the RT story and avow that reality is nothing like the RT story.

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RT also claims that Ukraine has stopped funding a state cancer program while in the DNR cancer care is free. While a previous cancer funding program ended in 2016, new cancer fighting plans for the years 2017 through 2022 are being developed.

According to deputy health minister Roman Ilyk funding for cancer care has been increased from 397 million hryvnia in 2016 to 445 million in 2017.