Ukraine’s national police raided a private fertility clinic in Kyiv last week for “selling newborns” largely to Chinese nationals, the Epoch Times reported on Monday. In related raids, investigators rescued five newborns about to be trafficked, Ukranian news agency UNIAN reported on Saturday.
The deputy head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVS), Anton Herashchenko, detailed the clinic’s raid on April 24 in a social media post on Sunday. He said that police “stopped the criminal activity of an international, transnational group” that has since been charged with human trafficking. Herashchenko described the criminal operation as “a supermarket for the sale of newborns.”
The head of the reproductive clinic allegedly directed the illegal operation, along with her son, two Ukrainians, and three Chinese nationals. The group found Ukrainian women to register “fictitious marriages with foreigners and participate in surrogacy programs” to traffic the newborns abroad, the MVS official said. “Chinese citizens – single men of a certain orientation,” accounted for the majority of the group’s clients, according to Herashchenko.
“For a monetary reward, the criminals provided services to solve organizational and legal issues related to the processes of fertilization, childbirth, paperwork, and legalization of the export of children outside Ukraine … In other words, they sold children born to Ukrainian women to China for money,” Herashchenko wrote.
According to MVS, newborns were sold for approximately $50,000. This included the cost of artificial insemination, organization of a feigned marriage, and legal support. After the children were born, birth certificates were reissued to the names of the “buyers” and their fake wives, i.e. the surrogate mothers.
The National Police of Ukraine conducted 11 raids related to the case; in addition to the clinic, officers searched suspects’ homes, their offices, and their cars. In these raids, five newborns aged two to six weeks old were found in private apartments throughout Kyiv. Investigators believed the infants were about to be trafficked and took them to children’s hospitals, according to UNIAN’s report.
It remains unclear exactly how many babies born in Ukraine have been smuggled out of the country through this operation. At least 140 Chinese citizens suspected of involvement in the purchasing of newborns in Ukraine are currently under investigation, MVS said on Sunday.
In Ukraine, surrogacy is not expressly prohibited by law and is largely unregulated. The group could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of human trafficking, according to MVS.