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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Ukrainian baby hospital hits back
Pregnant mother (generic)
The mothers of the babies say they did not see their children's bodies
The Ukrainian maternity hospital at the centre of baby theft and organ removal allegations in the eastern city of Kharkiv has dismissed them as "lies".

Larissa Nazarenko, head of Maternity Hospital No 6, spoke out after briefing an envoy from the Council of Europe.

The visit by Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold was prompted by reports of the theft of two babies in 2002 and organ removal.

The envoy, who met families, state officials and campaigners, said she would issue a report early next year.

The issue of trafficking in humans and human organs is "a fundamental problem... but it's not only in Ukraine," she said, declining to reveal what she had learned during her trip to Kharkiv.

'Afraid of birth'

Ms Vermot-Mangold will present her conclusions to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace).

Campaigners in Kharkiv believe two babies were stolen at birth from Maternity Hospital No 6 - but the hospital has strongly denied this.

Ms Nazarenko said she had produced "objective data received from those who were present during the birth" for Ms Vermot-Mangold.

"We tried to prove there is nothing to this problem apart from lies and acts of provocation," the hospital head said.

It was unclear if Ms Vermot-Mangold was using the trip to investigate a third alleged case, involving a different hospital in the city.

Ukrainian prosecutors have been conducting their own investigations.

Tatyana Zakharova, a campaigner for the families involved, earlier told the BBC News website that people in Kharkiv had become "afraid to even give birth".

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