Saturday, October 16, 2021

Story about Enslavement of Russians in Daghestan Turns Out to Be Fake News

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 10 – In the quest to attract attention and to be first, news outlets sometimes put out stories without adequately checking whether they are accurate. Such cases are especially common when they concern despised minorities and when a large swath of the population is prepared to believe the worst about them.

            One such story that earlier attracted widespread attention and is now collapsing concerns the supposed kidnaping and enslavement of two Muscovites by Daghestanis who then supposedly “escaped” and spoke to Russian media outlets (

            Petr Plekhanov and Olga Lifatova told such a compelling story that it rapidly spread across the Russian media; but now it turns out that most of what they said was an invention. They weren’t kidnaped, they weren’t enslaved, and they were in fact paid for all the work they performed.

            Yamudin Akhmedov, the Daghestani entrepreneur who hired them, has come forward with this evidence, including the fact that the two always had cellphones and could have communicated about their supposed plight at any time. They didn’t because they were working and being paid (

Akhmedov’s rebuttal to the story the two Muscovites told lacks the compelling human interest that their story had and almost certainly will not attract the attention of the Russian media audience. That is doubly unfortunate because this will only encourage others to invent such stories and because non-Russians like the Daghestanis will conclude they are victims of a double standard.

If someone reported that a Russian had enslaved Daghestanis in Moscow, there would have been all kinds of investigations launched to see if the Daghestanis were telling the truth. But when the case is reversed, that almost never happens. And the result is stories like this one, ultimately shown to be untrue but remaining in the minds of many despite that.


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