The Interior Ministry’s department on the prevention of human trafficking arrested four members of a criminal gang, who recruited Ukrainian citizens to sell drugs in Russia.
According to the Interior Ministry board member, MP Anton Gerashchenko, even Ukrainian law enforcement officers took part in this criminal scheme.
"One of the members of the group was an employee of the Department of the State Guard of Ukraine. He verified young people recruited for drug trafficking in Russia with the help of databases and polygraph test,"- Anton Gerashchenko stated at a briefing, Public Radio quotes.
Kateryna Onoprienko, a mother of one of the victims says, her son was forced to work in Russia because of debts and unemployment:
"My son has a huge debt, approximately a hundred thousand of hryvnias. He did not know how to pay it. There is no job. He saw an ad, he called, and they promised him big money."
According to the relatives of the victims, the young people did not know what job they would have. Only after arriving in Russia they were informed about their future job when it was impossible to refuse.
The Temporary Acting Chairman of the National Police Vadym Troyan said that criminals were threatening to kill Ukrainians if this did not help, they informed the police.
"When the courier refused, then the FSB or Russian police detained them on camera, and publicly accused Ukrainians of distributing drugs," - Vadym Troyan said.
In the short term, the drug dealers organized a widespread trafficking network.
"The recruiters hired IT services, legal services, and law enforcement services. They had a call center and a marketing department, which distributed ads in subways, buses and online,"- Troyan said.
Anton Gerashchenko said that the attackers were arrested with the help of NGOs, particularly the media initiative "For Human Rights" and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
Boris Zakharov, Director of the Advocacy Center of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union said many Ukrainians suffered from the activities of the gang.
"We found that there are at least ten arrested Ukrainian citizens in every city. Thus, we can conclude that it is a huge example of human trafficking and overall there are three thousand imprisoned Ukrainians,"- Zakharov stated.
According to him, they can be returned to Ukraine according to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
"If we accept that these people were victims of human trafficking, we can request Russia, and they will have to be released. However, the Russian Federation does not recognize Moldovan citizens to be victims of human trafficking in this case. They stay in prison. The second way is an extradition to serve their sentence in Ukraine. But, according to the convention, those people should serve their sentence here,"- Boris Zakharov noted.
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