Lawyer from Tatarstan files claim against WHO for its belated response to СOVID-19 pandemic

Kazan lawyer Lavrenty Sichinava believes that the World Health Organization employees showed criminal negligence and declared the pandemic too late

Lawyer from Tatarstan files claim against WHO for its belated response to СOVID-19 pandemic
Photo: Chen Junxia /Xinhua /globallookpress.com

Well-known Kazan lawyer Lavrenty Sichinava has submitted a report about criminal negligence of the World Health Organization to the Investigative Committee of Russia. In his opinion, the WHO specilists did not assess the risk of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in a timely manner and belatedly announced the pandemic, as a result of which the world community, including Russia, missed time to apply adequate sanitary and quarantine measures. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

“I ask to bring to justice”

In the statement submitted by Lavrenty Sichinava to Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin (available to Realnoe Vremya), it is said that the WHO was informed by the Chinese authorities about the outbreak of COVID-19, which causes deadly pneumonia, already in December. By January 22, the WHO had information that “the province of Hubei in China, which has a population of almost 60 million people, was completely covered by the virus outbreak, and two days later, on January 24, the virus was recorded in all administrative divisions of China.” According to the lawyer, the WHO “incorrectly reacted to the discovery of the virus, in fact, was engaged in hiding the true extent of the disease, thereby contributing to the further spread of the infection around the world, including the territory of the Russian Federation.”

The announcement of the pandemic only on 11 March was, in the complainant's view, obviously too late, since the scale of the problem had been clear almost two months earlier.

According to the lawyer, the WHO “incorrectly reacted to the discovery of the virus, in fact, engaged in hiding the true extent of the disease.” Photo: AFP

“The pandemic provides for a completely different type of sanitary and quarantine measures to prevent the spread of infection… They were accepted only from the middle of March, after the official announcement," he points out. “A large number of victims, psychological trauma associated with the destruction of the usual way of life, the loss of loved ones and relatives, uncertainty in the future caused tremendous harm to all residents of the Russian Federation.”

If the pandemic had been declared in a timely manner, Sichinava writes in his statement, then measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the world and in Russia would have been taken much earlier, and the spread of the virus would not have led to such terrible consequences.

As criminal law allows prosecuting foreign citizens who have committed socially dangerous acts on the territory of the Russian Federation, the lawyer from Kazan asks the Investigative Committee of Russia to conduct an objective and thorough investigation “to identify and establish all the circumstances of the criminal negligence of employees” of the WHO to prosecute if there are grounds “the persons responsible for the ensuing consequences”.

“The consequences are heavier than from the demolition of the monument to Marshal Konev”

“Turning to the chairman of the Russian IC, I hope that the leadership of the IC will show the same speed as when initiating a criminal case on the fact of the demolition of the monument to Marshal Konev in Prague," Lavrenty Sichinava commented on his statement to Realnoe Vremya. “Without calling into question the legality of initiating criminal proceedings for the demolition of the monument, I would like to emphasize that the consequences of negligence on the part of WHO staff were much heavier than when the monument was demolished. Perhaps, we should admit this. As an example, it could be conducted a survey of the population about what citizens know about the demolition of the monument, on the one hand, and about the coronavirus pandemic, on the other hand. I think the result of such survey is obvious.

He pointed out that his report to the Investigative Committee of Russia is based on the norms of criminal legislation of the Russian Federation providing for criminal proceedings for crimes committed by foreign citizens on the territory of foreign states, if these deeds have caused harm to the Russian Federation, its citizens and legal entities:

The harm caused by the spread of the virus is difficult to assess, and probably all of us will continue to suffer from the results of negligent attitude of WHO staff to their duties for a long time. Personally I have no doubt that there has been negligence, it is enough to refer to the chronology of events, directly to the WHO Charter, which clearly spells out the responsibilities and powers of this organization, and it will become clear to everyone. This is obvious to any practicing lawyer. As a practicing lawyer with almost 30 years of experience, I do not see any grounds that would prevent the initiation of criminal proceedings. All the signs of a crime under part 3 of article 293 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation in this case are obvious.

Realnoe Vremya has asked the Russian Investigative Committee for comment on the statement of Lavrenty Sichinava, it will be published upon receipt.

As of April 28, 697 cases of infection are registered in the republic, including the disease was confirmed in 65 patients with suspected coronavirus.

No peak yet

As of April 28, there are 93,558 cases of coronavirus infection in Russia, 8,456 people have recovered, 867 died, and the peak incidence has not been passed yet.

In Tatarstan, the first case of infection with COVID-19 was registered on March 17 in a French citizen who arrived to Kazan. As of April 28, 697 cases of infection were registered in the republic, including the disease was confirmed in 65 patients with suspected coronavirus. Seventy-five recovered since the first infected. One person died.

Since March 30, the republic has switched to a full self-isolation regime — for an indefinite period, “until the situation stabilizes”. Intermunicipal transportation of passengers and baggage has been suspended, and many businesses, in particular small entrepreneurs and self-employed, are being on the verge of ruin because of the suspension of their activities.

By Inna Serova
Tatarstan