Is politics behind the scaremongering or is something more sinister taking place?
Monday, Nov 2, 2009
Anyone closely following the news on swine flu will have noticed that there are conflicting stories of an advanced pandemic outbreak in Ukraine.
While the mainstream media is reporting that it is a surge in H1N1 influenza, alternative media sources are reporting that it is a new unidentified virus, while other reports cite witnesses in Ukraine who say there is no evidence of a pandemic at all.
Last week, according to mainstream reports, such as this one by AFP , Ukraine confirmed its first swine flu deaths, prompting Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (pictured) to implement a lockdown, including a ban on public gatherings, restrictions of movement between regions, imposed quarantines in nine provinces and the closing of schools, churches and cinemas.
President Viktor Yushchenko has reportedly asked the United States, the European Union, NATO and Ukraine’s neighbours for drugs and equipment to fight the spread of the virus, according to a statement released by his office .
Other reports have stated that Yushchenko has asked the Defense Ministry to prepare mobile military hospitals to deal with the outbreak, prompting fears that Yushchenko will soon effectively place Ukraine under martial law.
However, according to reports today , Prime Minister Tymoshenko has attempted to reverse the panic by announcing that there is no swine flu pandemic in the country at all, and that it is down to “media hysteria” and “politicians’ populist statements” in the run up to January elections.
“I want to underline that we are having a seasonal flu epidemic, which occurs every year,” Tymoshenko told a government meeting also attended by heads of pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment producers.
The pro-western government of Ukraine is charging that the “lockdown” is being overplayed by opposition politicians.
A World Health Organization team visiting Ukraine has also announced  that there is no evidence that the country’s outbreak is particularly severe, observations that dovetail with eyewitness reports from people in the city of Lviv, one of the supposed worst affected areas, who have said that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring in Ukraine.
Some political analysts also believe that the “pandemic” is political hype.
“Right now all the candidates are weighing their political options, looking around for a theme, and this is a very hot topic right now. The panic is there, and they are acting on it,” said Konstantin Bondarenko, director of the Gorshenin Institute, a political think tank.
The Ukrainian health ministry has now said that 22 out of a total 67 deaths from flu or acute respiratory illness have been confirmed as caused by the H1N1 virus. Given that the country has a population of 40 million, that figure can hardly be classed as a worrying one.
Another twist in the take comes in the form of various reports that have suggested that the Ukraine has actually been hit by an unknown new virus .
“The H1N1 virus which causes Mexican flu has been ruled out,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide  reported over the weekend.
Ukraine Health Minister Vasyl Kniazevych  backed this up in statements to the National Radio Company of Ukraine, indicating that the virus is not H1N1. “The minister noted that the main objective is to identify the virus causing the disease, which is expected to take several weeks.”
Knyazevich has also suggested that the virus could be an already discovered but different form of influenza, the so-called California A/N1N1 flu .
While others have said the virus constitutes a pneumonic plague , some suggest the virus is a more virulent strain of H1N1 , claiming that the virus has an affinity for the lungs and that the way it attacks young people strongly suggests it is a virulent form of H1N1.
Another report  suggests that eyewitnesses in Ukraine have reported seeing light aircraft spraying an unidentified aerosol over the city of Kiev, which they believe is linked to the so called “outbreak”. The office of Emergency Response in Ukraine has refuted the claims.
Whatever is really going on in Ukraine, the news has sparked a flurry of reports from conspiracy based websites that are citing a warning made in August by a man called Joseph Moshe, who claimed to be a former Mossad microbiologist.
Moshe hit the headlines when he was arrested after a long standoff with police in LA  because he had supposedly made threats against the White House.
Shortly after his arrest, hundreds of comments and reports began to circulate stating that Moshe had called into a radio show to warn people about a biological weapon that was being prepared by Baxter International’s  Ukraine plant that would be spread via a flu vaccine and would cause a plague upon it’s release.
Moshe’s identity as a microbiologist does seem to be verifiable , and Baxter certainly does have a presence in the Ukraine, as this page  with Baxter’s contact information for it’s Ukraine office confirms.
Whether Moshe’s claims have any basis in truth is up for debate, however, it now seems an incredible coincidence that he fingered Ukraine as the location for a specific outbreak.