[Stop-traffic] News/RUSSIA: FOR SALE - ONE BOY, 5, WITH HEALTHY ORGANS.

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/RUSSIA: FOR SALE - ONE BOY, 5, WITH HEALTHY ORGANS.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Nov 12 2000 - 09:07:59 EST


04/Dec/00 RUSSIA: FOR SALE - ONE BOY, 5, WITH HEALTHY ORGANS.
By Mark Franchetti * Moscow.
AT first sight it could have been a carefree family outing.
Five-year-old Andrei Tkachyov could barely contain his excitement as he
left home last month with his grandmother and uncle, dressed in his best
clothes and with his hair well combed.
They told him they were going to Disneyland. Less than an hour later
Andrei's grandmother, Nina Tkachyova, 55, and his uncle, Sergei Tkachyov,
30, were arrested by plainclothes policemen. They were accused of trying to
sell the boy to an officer posing as a trafficker in human organs.
A police video shows the pair pocketing $170,000 after handing over Andrei,
together with his birth certificate and medical records and a document in
which his mother officially renounced all claims on him. Andrei sits alone,
sobbing. "At first I simply couldn't believe this," said Yuri Tereshkin,
the state prosecutor handling the case. "How could this family bring itself
to sell a five-year-old defenceless child?
"It's such a shocking case it has been difficult to find a lawyer prepared
to defend these people. There are poorer people than these in Russia, but
never would they go this far for the sake of money."
Police were first tipped off about Tkachyova's plans mid-year while
investigating illegal adoptions. After hearing she was looking for a buyer,
they decided to approach her, posing as middlemen with links to the "organ
mafia".
They borrowed expensive clothes and a four-wheel-drive car. "We had no
chance of following her every move to try catching her and a buyer," said
Tereshkin. "It could have taken months and she might have tried to sell
Andrei in Moscow. We were scared of losing him. So we decided on a sting."
In the weeks that followed, Tkachyova, a market trader, had several
meetings with a man she knew as Igor, unaware he was an undercover police
officer. She showed him photographs of her grandson, who had lived most of
his life with her after Svetlana, his mother, stopped caring for him,
married and had children.
Igor at first offered pound stg. 32,000. She refused and demanded twice
that amount, in cash. After more haggling, he agreed.
Tkachyova has admitted trying to sell her grandson but denies seeking to
sell him for his organs. She claims she was trying to secure him a better
future with wealthy adopted parents. Investigators are not convinced. They
claim to have secretly taped a conversation between Tkachyova and Igor in
which he made it clear to her that Andrei's organs might be removed. "Had
she really intended to sell him for adoption she would have been shocked
and called off the deal," said Tereshkin.
"Instead, she said nobody would look for her grandson and that all she
needed was a certificate claiming he had been adopted."
Tkachyova, who had placed Andrei in an orphanage earlier this year, told
investigators she got the idea from a television program. Deciding the
internet was the best way to sell him, she advertised in a local paper
asking for help with the technology, and spread the word at the local
market. Soon after she was contacted by Igor.
Andrei has spent the month since his grandmother's arrest in an orphanage.
Staff say he still cries himself to sleep every night asking for her to
come and take him home.
(c) Nationwide News Proprietary Ltd, 2000.
AUSTRALIAN (THE) 04/12/2000 P9
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