Ukrainian campaigner seeks asylum in Russia

Mykola Kozhushko, head of the Dnepropetrovsk-based NGO Pomozhem Detyam, or Help Children, claims he has been targeted after blowing the whistle on criminals involved in fraud schemes with apartments allotted for orphans, RIA Novosti reports today..

In 2007, former Rada member Mykola Syrota, considered  to be the father of Ukraine’s constitution, had spoken out about the involvement of law enforcers in the prostitution of infants in Odesa.  Within 6 months he died in a mysterious traffic accident.

What Kozhuskho has spoken out about, once more raises questions about fate of Terry Hallman an American activist who’d also spoken out about the involvement of organised crime in the childcare system, with his provocative article on ‘Death Camps for Children’.

Hallman died in 2011, having failed to gain the support of US and UK government in his efforts to leverage reform. In notes left behind, he described the scenario 5 years ago after escalating the issue to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:

“Opening up the reality of that situation resulted in threats against me and anyone else interfering with that system.  I came under direct assault by tax police, government’s primary enforcement arm if anyone steps out of line.  This is not a research activity where many, if any, other people dared to participate.  UNICEF was willfully blind to the matter because it was just too dangerous to bother to intercede  Powerful interests remained entrenched with enforcers to make it dangerous.  Jurists were correct, in my view.  It was more a mafia operation than anything else, aimed at misappropriation and laundering of large money.  That was perfectly congruent with how Ukraine operated before the revolution.  USAID wanted nothing to do with it, nor would they fund any organizations or activists who might try.  Some things could be done and some things could not be done.  Helping these children was something that could not be done.  So, I exposed it and made it the central focus and metric of Ukraine’s microeconomic development blueprint.  In that context, it was far more difficult to ignore, dismiss, or argue about.  For about six months, I really did not expect to survive.  Nevertheless, Ukraine’s government finally conceded the point and announced the opening of more than four hundred new treatment centers for children who were theretofore invisible under tight and deadly enforcement.”

USAID had in fact gone further than Hallman realised before his death. The proposal he’d referred them to in his letter, a national scale social enterprise initiative, soon appeared under their own banner, in a joint initiative with the British Council. The primary focus of Ukraine’s most vulnerable children was eliminated when the proposal for a development centre in Kharkiv ended up in Donetsk, keeping us very much at arms length

There can be little doubt that public and private funds from both the US and Uk are now being used to help deny children their human rights.

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