Posted 15 декабря 2021,, 09:55

Published 15 декабря 2021,, 09:55

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Oleg Melnikov

Oleg Melnikov: "Slavery in the 21st century takes on new forms, but it has not gone anywhere"

15 декабря 2021, 09:55
Фото: Alternativa
Oleg Melnikov
In the annual report of the US State Department, Russia was ranked among the "third category" of states that do not meet the minimum international standards in the fight against human trafficking. However, this is, to put it mildly, not true.

The public movement "Alternative" is actively operating in Moscow, which liberates people from slavery all over the world.

Gennady Charodeyev

Of course, it is a shame to be in the same campaign for the eighth time with South Sudan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, one cannot but agree with the authors of the report that in Russia today there is no national strategy to suppress trafficking in persons. There is no structure that is responsible for the fight against slavery. It is also true that cases of forced labor are constantly recorded by employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But people in trouble do not call the police, but the "Alternative".

In an interview with NI, the founder and leader of the Alternative movement, Oleg Melnikov, clarified: from 80 to 100 thousand people disappear in the Russian Federation every year. Of these, 7–8% end up in slavery. Russian people fall into the trap

- Oleg, are you exaggerating when you talk about slaves, slavery? After all, people do not work on galleys with oars...

- Slavery in the Middle Ages is almost no different from today. Yes, the modern slave is not shackled or even tied to a radiator. They work in production, on the farm, or, like girls, in taverns. But according to the definition of the International Labor Organization, today a slave is a person who does not receive a salary, he cannot refuse to perform this or that work, he is subjected to physical and psychological violence, bullying. A slave is property that can be sold, inherited, donated.

- Modern slavery, what is it?

- In Russia, slavery is organized in the same way as in the whole world. I recently spoke with colleagues from the Netherlands, who said that they have the same situation with visiting Poles, Romanians, Ukrainians - with all those who come to their country to work, while they do not know the language and fall into the clutches of criminal structures. ...In other words, into slavery. Experts divide modern slavery into three main categories - labor, sexual and beggarly. The most widespread throughout the world, and in Russia as well, is labor slavery. The scheme of "luring" people into a trap is extremely simple. Suppose men from the provinces go to Moscow in search of work, but they do not understand how and where to look for it, and at first they live at the train station or rent a bed in a hostel for a pittance. After two or three days, they come to the attention of the so-called "recruiters". Those approach the intended victim and say: "There is a good job for you!" Most often, recruiters do not say exactly where the “heavenly place” is, or they say “in the south”. Imagination draws palms, white sand, sea...

As usual, men are offered a drink for successful employment, and then people, "stunned" by clophilin, wake up in Dagestan, Kalmykia or in any other place where there are construction sites, mines or farms. The hard workers are told that money has been paid for them, and they promise to return the documents when they have worked them out. Modern slaveholders usually call small amounts - 15-20 thousand rubles. But it’s impossible to work them out, so they say to a slave candidate: “Today you earned 500 rubles, they spent 300 on your food, and 600 for housing”. The counter clicks, and the "debt" is constantly growing.

- I recently noticed a priest who begged for alms near the temple. Does he work for the "uncle" too?

- “Once, as an experiment, I myself got up in a wheelchair near one of the temples on Taganka”, - said Oleg Melnikov. - I was immediately approached by "pitching" and, realizing that I was a stranger, began to threaten. We tried to reach out to those who “cover” the beggars, but we were burnt by the journalists who stood next to them in their “inconspicuous” white car with the inscription “Russian Public Television”, In the Luhansk region, in a nursing home, there lived a woman who lost her sight in her youth. A recruiter came to her from the Moscow gypsies and promised to take her to Russia, where, supposedly, doctors would restore her eyesight. The woman who dreamed about it all her life agreed. As a result, instead of helping to restore her eyesight, her eyes were sewn up. And the more the old woman's eyes festered (she was standing near the Kursk railway station in Moscow), the more compassionate Muscovites threw money at her. But if they only knew that each such disabled person brings his owner from 10 to 15 thousand rubles a day! In return, the "beggar" slaves receive only a bowl of soup and a bed for the night. If you see a priest asking for alms near the temple, you should know that he is a swindler or a forced man who works for an uncle. According to the rules of the Russian Orthodox Church, alms collection can be carried out only on the territory of the church. Nevertheless, today there are a lot of false priests in Russian cities.

In fact, begging is the second kind of slavery. There is always bonded labor. Nobody will let you just stand on Tverskaya street and ask for money from passers-by. Criminal bosses will definitely approach their "controllers" to the individual beggar and begin to find out who he is and for whom he works. If a competitor doesn’t get away, he can be beaten up or even killed. The so-called "beggars", whom we see every day in the metro or in the squares and streets of Moscow, always have owners. These are the real slave owners. In the 1990s, the capital's "beggars" were seized by the Georgian ethnic organized crime group, but through the efforts of law enforcement agencies, it ceased to exist in 2004. Today, Moldovan Gypsies remain in the capital, who are actively importing grandfathers, grandmothers and disabled people from the Odessa region. And all because compassionate residents of big cities stopped giving alms to Tajiks in robes and skullcaps. But the Astrakhan Gypsies, who also settled in the capital, mostly beg themselves, sometimes, in order to arouse pity in Muscovites, they use stolen children, - stated the head of "Alternative".

Oh God, mothers are selling their children!

- Oleg, where do the gypsies get other people's children?

- This is a big question. Grudnichkov are actively sold by migrants, dysfunctional families, female students who accidentally "flown in" from their fellow students. A dark baby costs about 100 thousand rubles, a light one - 300-400 thousand. The sale of children is very difficult to track, because when a child is born, the parents are given a birth certificate in the maternity hospital. But until this certificate is taken to the registry office, the child does not seem to exist. There were cases when five different children passed through the same birth certificate. A DNA examination to establish parenthood can be done only after the initiation of a criminal case. The problem is that the Criminal Code contains article 151, "Involvement of a minor in the commission of antisocial acts". But nurses do not fall under it, since they themselves cannot ask the police about it. So, the gypsies have children something like props! As a rule, such children in the arms of the gypsy "Madonnas" live from one and a half to three months. So that they don't whine, they are stuffed with drugs!

Anyone who gives money to a beggar should understand that he actually pays for the torment and death of these children!

- Name the most problematic regions of Russia.

- The Caucasus is traditionally considered to be the center of slavery, but the bandits of other regions of our immense do not lag behind their southern colleagues. Slavery is flourishing in the Far East, in Moscow, St. Petersburg, throughout the south of Russia. In the Krasnodar Territory and in the Stavropol Territory, slave labor is used in agricultural work. In Dagestan, when we arrived there, there were more than 600 brick factories where forced labor was actively used. Today law enforcement agencies have worked there, they have planted whoever is needed, and there are only 4 factories left, the Arabs are gone. In this, to admit, there is also our merit.

- Oleg, you once said that now there are a lot of cases when young mothers sell their children...

- Here is a recent case. Some time ago, an ad appeared on the social network: a young woman is ready to give her newborn child for a reward. We monitor such messages, take them under control and ask the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department to take action. In this particular case, our employee contacted the unfortunate mother and asked to clarify why she decided to get rid of her son? The woman replied: “Neither me nor my husband needs a child. I want 100 thousand rubles! " As it happened in our practice, we tried again and again to dissuade her from selling her newborn son. At the same time, of course, they did not decipher themselves. As a result, the woman flew from Kazan to Moscow, lived for some time in a hotel. Our dummy buyer again had a conversation with her, dissuaded her, even promised to pay some of her expenses in Moscow. “We buy you a return ticket, give you money for the trip, and you return home to Kazan, but with your child”, the “buyer” insisted. In response, she repeated her own: "No, I need money!" Woe-mother wrote a receipt that, they say, she would not have any complaints. After the money was handed over to her, she was detained by the police. Everything was recorded on a video camera. Now the perpetrator is in jail, the child is in the hospital, and the employees of "Alternative" are giving evidence in the Investigative Committee. In cases of trafficking in children, our organization works in conjunction with the authorities.

- How long can she get?

- For such acts, you are entitled to from two to four years in prison. Of course, a woman will be deprived of parental rights. Where is the FSB looking? "Alternative", as it turned out from the words of its leader, together with the police, is fighting not only trafficking in children, but also illegal surrogacy.

- Excuse me, but in Russia surrogacy is allowed by the Federal Law...

- You are right, in our country this procedure is legally allowed. Today, this is actively used by various criminal groups abroad, especially in Asia. The main customers are located in China, neighboring Russia. The scheme for fulfilling the "order" for the birth of a surrogate child and its illegal crossing over the cordon has been worked out to the smallest detail. And then, in Russia, alas, there will always be women who desperately need money and therefore are ready for anything, even to give birth to children for the Chinese.

- Pardon, in China there are not enough people?

- I will reveal only part of the problem. How long do you think it will take in Europe and the USA to receive donor organs for transplantation to sick children? One and half year. And in China, for good money, unfortunate parents will be helped in 7-12 days!

- Is it possible that Chinese criminals have established such a terrible business in Russia?

- Nowadays, new-born children are mostly "ordered" in Russia, because everywhere in the world surrogate motherhood has been banned for non-citizens of the country. Even in India, from where there were massive "deliveries" to the Celestial Empire. And in Russia it is still allowed. The police, both in our country and in China, naturally fight this monstrous evil. And "Alternative" is actively helping them. I will not disclose the methods of our work.

- How do women get into sexual slavery?

- Everything is simple here. The girls are called to work supposedly in a chic nightclub or hotel. They promise them a singing career or a job in a bar. Many, especially naive young provincial women, immediately take it and agree. Recently there was a case when a girl was called to work as a croupier in a legal casino abroad. When she had already begun to rejoice at her luck and dream of a comfortable life, the owners told her about the "debt" of 45-50 thousand dollars: they say, she needs to work, and then we will let her go. It is clear that women will never work off their "debt", and they are never allowed to go free. It is interesting that the amount of 45-50 thousand dollars is always called. Even when girls from Nigeria are taken to Russia, they are promised the same money. They are said to work as a seamstress, model, sing or dance in a nightclub. Upon arrival in Russia, the African women are allegedly inflicted with the wrath of Saint Voodoo, they believe in it. And out of fear they agree to "selling love". China and North Cyprus are full of girls from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. How did they get there? Again, recruiters offered them jobs in nightclubs. As a result, having taken away their passports, they were forced to engage in prostitution. They protested, of course. Then they were beaten, raped, put on drugs. Rape again. And then they said - you want it all to stop, - you work out the season, and we will let you go. Many women agree to this. They simply have no other option. When they call "Alternative" and ask for help, we get them out.

- And were there such cases when men had to be rescued from sexual slavery?

- We now have a certain young man under control who is being kept in one of the Latin American countries, making him - against his will, of course - a "porn star". In fact, a man is forced to undress in public in front of video cameras, to engage in sexual perversions. On these online broadcasts, its owners make a lot of money. The guy was persuaded to go so far, again promising a job in a modeling agency and deceived. Our people are making efforts to free him from slave captivity.

- They say that the Nigerian mafia is engaged in sexual slavery today. Did they also penetrate Russia?

- This mafia structure is very active all over the world. It has its own newspapers, clubs, its own, so to speak, authorities. Members of the African organized crime group trade in human trafficking, transporting them from country to country. We jailed one of the leaders of the Nigerian mafia in 2019 for trying to sell a girl. An employee of "Alternative" acted as the buyer.

- Does the police know about this story?

- Of course, the security forces are fighting with her. Punishment is their responsibility. They helped imprison the mafiosi by arresting him during the transfer of money.

"Sometimes we walk on the edge of a knife"

- If it's not a secret, how are people saved?

- Our organization has an agent network not only in Russia, but also in many countries. The most problematic points are the entire Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia. Over the ten years of our existence, we have learned a lot, have accumulated good connections. We can take a person out from almost any point and deliver him to any other point. The alternative never pays the ransom.

People who have fallen into slavery come to us in different ways, but most often these are some kind of personal contacts. Sometimes they contact directly from the police stations, which know the "Alternative". It happens that the relatives of the victims find us. Our direct telephones hang in different police departments, and if a person disappears, they contact us by mobile phone and ask for help. It happened that people themselves who are in slavery, or not indifferent citizens who noticed or suspected something, called. If we find out that somewhere a person is in slavery, we urgently leave for the place and, sometimes, we simply steal him, and then at our own expense we transport him home. There are different situations. But basically we go into the room insolently, show any "crusts" - no one looks at them anyway! And this, by the way, always works: we are mistaken for police officers. Then, without explaining anything to anyone, we take the right people. We often have to operate illegally, in an environment of heightened danger. To return a person from another country, a group of professional rescuers usually gathers and travels to the site. We calculate the escape routes in advance and try to minimize risks. Usually girls are enslaved abroad. We very quickly steal them, transport them to another country, look for transparent borders and whether it is possible to pass without documents. Often you have to turn to the Russian consulates general for help. They help us. There are soulful people everywhere. It happens that intelligence officers do not recommend our people to visit such states unrecognized by Russia as, for example, Northern Cyprus. But the guys still rush to the rescue of someone. It turns out that we not only break a bunch of laws, but also practically smuggle girls home. After release, we send people home or provide temporary shelter. If you need to restore documents, we help you with this, using the established contacts in official instances.

Once we rented a room in Krasnogorsk for the newly liberated poor fellows. Somehow the employees of the Federal Migration Service found out about this. At first, they simply wrote out a fine, and a few days later they brought the police, who opened a criminal case on suspicion of organizing illegal migration. We tried to explain something, said that so far there is nowhere to put people, and the employees of the bodies answered: the law does not provide for the harboring of former slaves. In the end, everything was decided humanly: the case was closed and handed over to the archive. Since then, we have become more careful. Quite recently, there was a problem with one of the freed: he was beaten, so from our secret place where former slaves live, the wounded was taken to the hospital. It was not clear what to do, because you cannot say where he currently lives. On the one hand, we are breaking the law, but on the other, we have five more people who are about to get their documents and go home. We are more of them we do not accompany, because there is no such possibility. But on the New Year, 50-60 congratulations come from unknown senders.

- What money is there for "Alternative"?

- It often happens that those whom we have helped and their relatives provide us with financial assistance. Unfortunately, their money does not compensate for the expenses of our organization in any way. And all the time you need money for air tickets, hotels, rental of transport, office fees, salaries of employees, etc. Some money is given by my personal business associated with the production of liquid nitrogen, industrial gases and dry ice. But due to the pandemic, revenues have dropped. By some miracle, we managed to establish fundraising and we are now donating about 600-700 thousand through social networks. In short, while we survive somehow.

- Does the state not help at all?

- We would be glad, but no, it doesn't help. But "Alternative" today is the only organization from Russia that is reckoned with in the outside world. But officials are not interested in this. I would be happy to share our experience with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Imagine if employees of the diplomatic department came to us and said: "Here is money, tools, glorify the country." Once we were looking for a person in the Volgograd region and arrived at the local police station. One sergeant, smiling, said: "I know you are on grants!" I didn't even want to explain anything. People do not believe that we are doing our job unselfishly, because it makes it easier for them to justify their inaction. Continue to sit on the couch and think that there is some kind of secret intent.

- Have you somehow tried to declare yourself at the international level? The US State Department has prepared a whole report on slavery in Russia. The Americans claim that the Russians are doing nothing to combat this evil...

- This is politics! In the USA they know us very well about our existence. We constantly communicate with representatives of the OSCE, ILO, IOM - the international organization for migration. They periodically turn to "Alternative" for help when they become aware of a particular person who is being held in slavery. They just call us and say - could you help free this person? We do not refuse anyone, we help everyone.

Friends! If you suddenly find out that someone is in slavery, call the Alternative's hotline: 8 (800) 550-71-40