Criminal Case for Slavery

August 8, 2013
Andrei Stepin/RIA Novosti

Wednesday we published a translation of a journalist’s tour of a refugee internment camp after police raids netted over one thousand illegal immigrants. Today, we publish a translation about how the Russian police are pursuing slavery charges against the “employers” of those migrant workers.

It is worth noting that widespread police misconduct has been reported by many Russians in recent weeks, as racist gangs and police have reportedly worked side-by-side to raid marketplaces and detain non-Russians. The narrative coming from the Russian government is very different than these reports, suggesting that the police are pursuing a human-rights centric goal by freeing these workers from slavery.

The translation is below. – Ed.

The use of migrant labor in the capital has become grounds for opening a criminal case. As the press office of the Main Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry for Moscow reports, six men are suspected of using the slave labor of 700 migrants in Moscow.

“A separate investigation and criminal case under the article ‘use of slave labor’ has been taken from the criminal case earlier opened by the main investigative division of the Main Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry for Moscow regarding six persons suspected of organizing a criminal gang, and also organizing illegal migration,” says the Russian Interior Ministry press statement.

Police are certain that the suspects created a “persistent and consolidated group with hierarchical subordination and distribution of roles for the use of the slave labor of illegal migrants from citizens of Vietnam and other countries.” With that purpose, the gang secured the unlawful entry to Russian Federation territory of more than 700 citizens who do not speak Russian, and their stay at plants they controlled.

According to the investigation, the suspects purchased sewing machines, and outfitted shops and living spaces where they did not maintain the appropriate sanitary conditions or work safety for the illegal workers.

They took away the workers’ documents, depriving them of the opportunity to return home or enjoy their lawful rights on Russian territory.

The Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry added that the suspects had provided the illegal migrants with basic food, virtually making them their property.

Massive inspections of marketplaces have been going on since the end of July in Moscow and other cities with the purpose of exposing illegals. The raids began after a police officer was brutally beaten at the Matveyevsky market during an operation to detain a rape suspect from the North Caucasus. More than 500 illegal immigrants were detained as a result, most of whom turned out to be citizens of Vietnam. All of them were sent to a specially-created tent camp in northeast Moscow.

On Monday, the Vietnamese Embassy expressed concern about the conditions in which the camp’s inhabitants were living. “The detention conditions are poor. Forty people are in one tent that is 50 square meters, these are simply inhumane conditions,” Lee Hong Chung, head of the consular section of the Vietnamese diplomatic mission in Moscow told Interfax.