Staunton, September 1 – Any Russian in any part of the country is now at risk of becoming a slave, Yana Polyanskaya says in a new Svobodnaya Pressa commentary, and not just in the North Caucasus as Moscow news outlets have led the population to believe (svpressa.ru/society/article/242382/).
Indeed, this shameful phenomenon is so widespread, Anatoly Boltykhov, a rights activist from Volgograd says, that “Russia now has more slaves than China and Somalia” in large measure because those who trap people into it are making “millions” and can generally escape punishment for their crimes.
Polyanskaya says that reports about arrests for slavery around the country should that slavery has become “an industry like gambling, prostitution and drug trafficking,” so large that police are unable or unwilling, as the result of corruption, to do all that much about it. As a result, it is one industry that is “flourishing.”
In one recent case, interior ministry officers did free 14 slaves, but this is “only the tip of the iceberg,” the commentator says. Thousands of other Russians and immigrants are routinely stripped of their documents and forced to work often in inhuman conditions and without pay for years.
Some of the most commonly victimized are the homeless, the commentator continues; but others include graduates of orphanages who have no experience of dealing with the adult world or young people fleeing from the villages where unemployment is high in the hopes of finding work in the cities.
Many are the victims of con men but some are drugged and then find themselves trapped. If they try to leave, they are beaten often severely. The police mostly focus on other kinds of crime and so slavery continues, making a profit for the slaveholders and casting a dark shadow on Russia’s claims to be a modern, law-based country.
Some independent activist groups have emerged to try to fill the gap and free the Russian slaves. Among the most important is the Alternative Movement which maintains a hotline those in slavery can call and thus restore contacts with their families and friends who can help liberate them.