Bought vaccination certificates: Ukraine is planning a “corona amnesty”

Purchased vaccination certificates
Ukraine is planning a “corona amnesty”

By Denis Trubetskoy, Kiev

Ukraine has a problem: some owners of falsified vaccination certificates want to be vaccinated after all. Because their wrong data is recorded centrally, there should be an amnesty for them.

Not only does Ukraine have one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with only 21 percent of those fully vaccinated. According to estimates by Oleg Ruban, head of the consumer protection organization in Kiev, up to ten percent of vaccination records in the Ukrainian capital could be falsified. A recent survey by the Ukrainian Future Institute is also sounding the alarm: According to this, around ten percent of Ukrainians say that they know someone who has bought a Covid certificate.

In fact, hardly anyone can verify that. Because in Ukraine, the data of the vaccinated are collected in a digital database that is linked to a state service app. The app now even replaces the passport or driver’s license. If a doctor enters the falsified data in the system, the person is now considered vaccinated and receives a QR code via the app, among other things.

Such a code has been needed since the introduction of the 3G-like rules in Kiev and most of the Ukrainian regions. Both supply and demand increased accordingly. An indication of the authenticity of the problem: While a fake vaccination certificate in anonymous Telegram channels cost more than the equivalent of 200 euros months ago, prices have now fallen below 100 euros. And because in the Ukraine mainly vaccines from Biontech and Moderna are inoculated, it is about vaccination certificates that are also accepted in the European Union. This means that the EU cannot be sure that travelers from Ukraine are really vaccinated, even if everything looks like it.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health sees another problem, which from Kiev’s point of view is much more acute. Similar to Russia, Ukraine is experiencing its worst corona wave to date, with between 700 and 800 deaths every day, even if it has flattened out a little since last week. Ukrainian doctors report several cases in which formally vaccinated people admitted upon admission to hospital that their evidence was actually a fake. “Their relatives and friends watch such situations and already want to be vaccinated,” said Serhiy Dubrov, President of the Association of Anesthetists of Ukraine, the broadcaster RBC. “I personally know stories of people wanting to be vaccinated but not being able to do so because they are already in the database.”

In Russia, similar problems are solved privately

That is why Health Minister Viktor Lyaschko has announced a “Covid amnesty”: “We are aware of the problem. We are working on making it possible for such people to be vaccinated quickly”. According to the ministry, the proposed mechanism should look like this: the owner of the fake vaccination certificate first contacts his doctor, tells him about the fake and tells him where he bought the certificate. Then he gets a real vaccination. The doctor must pass the information on to the police, who will then initiate an investigation.

A doctor who has entered data about a non-existent vaccination into the system is currently at risk of up to two years of community service. For the user of the falsified certificate, on the other hand, up to two years’ imprisonment can be incurred. The Ukrainian parliament should increase the penalties in both cases.

It is still unclear how far the “Covid amnesty” extends. The Ukrainian police insist that no penalty can be imposed only if a certificate has not been used. How to determine this is also not entirely clear. Because although the scanning of a QR code leaves a digital footprint, the certificates are rarely scanned by the police – the staff of restaurants and other facilities usually do not scan the codes.

There is a similar problem in Russia, whose Sputnik V vaccine and thus also the Russian Covid certificates are not recognized by Germany. As the Russian edition of Forbes magazine reports, more and more people in Moscow with falsified vaccination certificates are reporting to private clinics in order to be vaccinated. The data of these persons will not be changed. Their QR codes, for example, continue to show the time and vaccine of the fake vaccination. The business newspaper “Kommersant” had already written in November about a database of around 500,000 Russian citizens circulating on the Darknet who had allegedly bought a fake vaccination certificate or a fake PCR test. However, the authenticity of the database remained unclear.

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