National Police seals documents in the largest patient organizations. Activists claim pressure from the authorities
Today, on October 11, investigators of the Main Directorate of the National Police of Ukraine, after consultation with the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, came with the decision of the Pechersk Court to seize documents from the office of the Charitable Foundation “Patients of Ukraine”.
According to the court’s decision, the documents are withdrawn from the Charitable Foundation “Patients of Ukraine”, Alliance for Public Health and the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH in order to conduct unscheduled tax inspections and audits, as well as forensic, economic and graphology examinations.
The National Police and the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine blame the leadership of the organizations for embezzlement money of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“We regard these steps of the law enforcement agencies as exclusively a pressure on patients’ anticorruption organizations,” says Olga Stefanyshina, the Executive Director of the “Patients of Ukraine”. “Our organizations are constantly audited, and there are all financial statements on the sites with open access. We are supported by the largest international organizations, so the starting criminal proceeding against us is an undeniable attempt to intimidate and paralyze our work.”
It is important to note that the Global Fund regularly involves external auditors to confirm the organization’s planned use of funds. “Our organizations regularly undergo special examinations by audit companies, specifically at the request of the Global Fund, and no violations were detected. Surprisingly, an organization that supports us financially does not see any violations in the use of its money, and the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are trying to start criminal proceedings against us,” adds O. Stefanishina.
Activists also associate the following steps of police officers with the fact that these organizations were engaged in promotion of reforming public procurement of medicines and transferring this function to international organizations. This reform, according to the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine and anti-corruption organizations, annually saves up to 40% of the state budget of Ukraine for the procurement of medicines.
“Tender trough is closed. The pharmaceutical mafia loses billions on procurement of medicines through international organizations, which now lay not in pockets of shell companies, but are used to buy additional medicines for patients,” says Dmytro Sherembey, the Head of the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH. “We, as patients, defend this reform in order not to return corrupt schemes. That is why, people who used to make profits from our lives are using the whole state apparatus to frighten us and block our work. It is nonsense that law enforcement agencies close cases against Bohatyryova’s aids and focus all their resources on fighting civic activists.”
The All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH has already received copies of 8 court decisions, according to which the Security Service of Ukraine also has open criminal proceedings against the organizations.
It is worth noting that 588 organizations receive funding of the Global Fund in Ukraine, including 354 medical facilities (AIDS Centres, tuberculosis dispensaries), 124 correctional institutions and 100 NGOs.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established by the United Nations in January 2002 to improve funding of national AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programmes in countries with low levels of own resources.