Russia Investigates Kosovo Organ Trafficking Case

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been following the investigation into organ trafficking in Kosovo, according to the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant,. This is due in part to the fact that two Russian citizens have been identified  as victims in the Kosovo organ trafficking case, Vladimir Markin of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office told the newspaper Jan. 16. The committee also confirmed that it found its own  evidence linking Kosovo authorities to the case. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a Jan. 18 news conference that his government would insist on the its own investigation.

Serbia and Russia have both raised questions about  investigation the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) has been conducting into allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo. . In April, EULEX asked the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for legal assistance. However, despite repeated inquiries from EULEX and prompts from the Ministry, the Investigating Committee  has not shared its findings with the EU authorities, according to  Kommersant.

EULEX prosecutors allege that several years after the 1999 Kosovo war, Medicus Clinic, a private clinic in Pristina, conducted illegal organ transplants, paying victims a fraction of what traffickers got selling the organs. The victims came from Kosovo, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkey.

Former Kosovo Secretary of Health Ilir Rrecaj and a Pristina urologist are on trial in Kosovo. Other suspects include Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and Israeli national Moshe Harel.

A report by the Council of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty also linksMedicus Clinic to allegations of organ harvesting from war prisoners by the subordinates of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Tachi during the Kosovo conflict in 1999.

On Dec. 21, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was to have discussed a draft resolution by Serbia and Russia to establish an international investigative mechanism under a UN mandate. That discussion was postponed.

At a conference entitled "Serbia and the EU - quo vadis" in Belgrade Dec. 21, Serbian Minster of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic said that “No serious investigation is possible without a mandate from the Security Council.” Jeremic also said resistance  by some Security Council members “represents an act of moral abdication in front of hard-core criminals and war criminals." The conference was organized by the Centre for Foreign Policy and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

“We are very upset over this fact,” Russian Ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin told Russia Today on Dec. 28. “We do not understand why our western colleagues in the UN refuse to implement measures which would confirm the legitimacy of the EULEX investigation in Kosovo and find perpetrators of these crimes.”

“I believe that the EULEX mechanism is insufficient for implementation of an appropriate investigation, protection of witnesses and reporting to the UN Security Council. I fear that after five or six years of confidential investigation they will announce that they were not able to discover anything, that witnesses are deceased or murdered in the meantime, and that everything is over,” Churkin said.

While it is not known when the Security Council will review Serbia’s resolution, Churkin said “Nevertheless I think that we will continue to work in this direction in 2012 as well, and that this resolution will be accepted so that the crime would not be forgotten.”