Two recent orders by the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) chief have recognized that “medical workers and auxiliary personnel of the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital,” who participated in the PFVMH’s August, September and October missions in Eastern Ukraine, where part of the ATO forces and facilities. The orders we issued by LTG Ruslan Khomchak, Deputy Head of the Anti-Terrorist Center attached to the Security Service of Ukraine. PFVMH Executive Director Oleksandr Hahayev reported that preparation of a similar order for the current 20th mission of the volunteer hospital is underway.
According to Hahayev, these orders have crowned a long fight for execution of the procedure for using PFVMH medics in the ATO. It was set forth “in black and white” in the Procedure for Including Civil Medical Personnel in the ATO Forces and Facilities, approved by Defense Minister GA Stepan Poltorak on July 28, 2016.
The Procedure was approved following a report by Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Chief of General Staff GA Viktor Muzhenko who suggested that the mechanism of PFVMH involvement would be the one “provided for in the quadripartite Memorandum of Cooperation within the Framework of the Project ‘Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital,'” namely:
- The AFU Military Medical Department shall apply to the ATO Staff, submitting a list of civil medical personnel with enclosed written consents by these citizens and motions by the Health Ministry before local governments for sending the said personnel to the ATO for a certain period;
- Based on the application by AFU Military Medical Department, the ATO Staff shall issue an order to include these personnel into the ATO forces and facilities.
This mechanism jammed on the second point, when, according to Hahayev, “buck-passers in the ATO Staff started reinventing the wheel,” although Art. 4 of the Law of Ukraine “On Fight against Terrorism” explicitly states inter alia that “citizens by their consent may be involved in anti-terrorist operations subject to decision of the anti-terrorist operation command.” The ATO Staff lawyer concocted more and more new requirements – certificates, conditions, permits, explanations, etc. – and thus delayed initialing the corresponding draft order, which the ATO chief could not issue without the layer’s initials.
The situation changed with the change of the lawyer and ATO chief surgeon. The PFVMH involvement mechanism was fine-tuned with a few legal technicalities, which resulted in the appearance of the abovementioned orders by ATO chief.
Says PFVMH President Gennadiy Druzenko:
I’m happy that the good sense has finally won. The order on involving our medics in ATO has been finally signed. This means that our half-year struggle with shoulder-boards-wearing bureaucrats was not vain. PFVMH medics have finally been entitled to legitimately staying and working at military units and granted a legal status and social protection, whereas our defenders have received skill doctors standing by. Today I have no questions for our partners in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and law enforcement agencies: they have carried out their commitments to the full extent. I thank everybody who has helped the good sense win against the antihuman bureaucrat logic.
I hope that as soon as this week the Health Ministry will sign an order to enable detaching civil volunteer doctors and placing them at direct disposal of the ATO Staff and then distributing them among military units and frontline civil hospitals. Such an order is explicitly stipulated in section 4 of the quadripartite memorandum of cooperation. Unfortunately, preparation of this document for signing is not absolutely trouble-free, but I believe that we will overcome the system resistance on the civil front as well.
If this happens, PFVMH medics, for the first time in their two-year work in the ATO zone, will not feel like semi-guerrillas, we will not work in legal vacuum any more, and our volunteers will be 100-percent legally and socially protected.
For more details of the PFVMH fight for legalization of their stay in the ATO zone read Gennadiy Druzenko’s interview with Apostroph.