When you hear about the problem of human trafficking, you immediately think about sexual slavery, children begging and forced agricultural works. However, during the last years, this crime turned into the tool of hybrid war when Ukrainian girls and boys have been offered bright career perspectives in Russia but in result they were imprisoned in Russian prisons. Moreover, in Ukraine it was done by the Ukrainians who “helped people to tackle their financial problems”.
Law enforcement agencies managed to catch them. Thus, the so-called “recruiters’ case” has been trying in the Solomyanskyi regional court since June last year. Three men who are suspected in human trafficking are presented. They’re citizens of Ukraine, brothers Vasyl Sokolovskyi and Oleksandr Ukrainets and a citizen of Moldova Anatoliy Kvachan, who will be held in the detention centre until November 10. Their future will be discussed on November 8. This is the date of the next trial proceeding.
The parents of young people who appeared in this trouble say that it important to do everything possible to close the source of Ukrainians abuse for the Russian Federation. Thus, Opinion decided to talk to the relatives of those who serve the sentence in the Russian colonies to find out how it’d really happened.
“It was an organised scheme of vanishing of the Ukrainian youth”
They understood that it’s useless to count on some else’s help, so they gathered into the public organization “Resistance of human trafficking” and started knocking at every door to solve the tangle of intrigues, which had started from the banal job advertisement in the newspaper. The head of this All-Ukrainian public association, Vira Volodiy is worried about her son’s fate who, being a lawyer, also was trapped and finally got into the Russian prison.
“Our organization consists of more than 310 people, these are the relatives of those who were tricked into going to Russia, intimidated and involved into criminal activity and then they were scattered across the Russian prisons”, Vira Volodiy explains to Opinion. “And the main purpose of this trip is to deliver the problem we have in Ukraine for the European Parliament and to ask them to appeal to the Russian government, to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation. Because Ukrainian documents which state that our children are the victims of human trafficking and which we provide to Russian law enforcement officers when our children are tried, the Russian side doesn’t take these papes to consideration. And all, whose relatives joined our association, are recognized as the victims of human trafficking”.
“We’re heard in Europe…”
According to Vira Volodiy, they also talked to the representative of the Commissioner of the Council of Europe for Human Rights, Dunia Miatovych. Our deputies, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were also informed. “We’ve tried to say that the Russian side has ignored any fact as if acting due to the written script”, says the woman. “We’re heard in Miatovych and promised to write an appeal to the Russian side on this question. And also to our heads: to the Prime-Minister, to the Ombudswoman Ludmyla Denysova because the headhunters are still working. We’ve reported to our police, Ministry of Social Policy and the Prosecutor General’s Office. There’s no reaction so we don’t know whom to ask for a help to close the source of this advertisement”.
Advertisements, on which unemployed Ukrainians hooked on were published in newspapers, on the Internet, on the buses and even on the ad boards near the houses.
“For my own trouble, I’ve found that advertisement in the newspaper”
25 years-old Margaryta Molokhovska from Kremenchug has been working as an accountant for 9 years.
Ludmyla Molokhovska, Ryta’s mother, remembers how the daughter had got an education in accounting, then started working and when she gave birth to a child the life became tough. When the kid grew up a little bit, the daughter started going to Italy for earning money. And then, for her trouble, she found that advertisement in the newspaper. The main thing that the relatives of victims try to achieve is to relocate them from Russian prisons to Ukrainian. The mechanism of this process is as follows: after the verdict is reached in Russia, the litigations start in Ukraine, the relatives apply documents for relocation.
“Of course, I asked”, the woman said. “We’ve done it together with Vira’s mother, wrote to General Prosecutor’s Office and to other state offices. We were promised help but there’s no result yet. The half of my papers just went astray somewhere because we don’t have our own apartment, we have to move from apartment to apartment. But we were given the answer that our application had been registered and the steps would be taken. So much time has passed but nothing changed. And I don’t know anything, the only thing I can do – to worry about my daughter every day. Registered in that group on Facebook where our parents, keep in touch with them because it’s hard to withstand what I have faced these years. At least the granddaughter is with me, I got custody of her, even though it’s also hard to do: the most important thing was to choose an apartment for Child Protective Services to come and see whether it’s appropriate for a child or not. We had to move, but, thank God, we’ve coped”.
“When they detain, the one beat, the other toss drugs into pockets…”
Another girl who is serving the sentence in the Russian Federation is a 32 years-old Olesya Gulianytska from the village in the Chernigiv region. She’s in Russia for almost three years. She also was standing the trial, the term of incarceration – 11 years. Once again, the scheme is similar: came to Russia with his friend Andriy Krasnoyarov.
“They, like the others, found a job in advertisement”, told Olesya’s mother, 50 years-old Galyna Gulianytska. “She’s an accountant, had a job in Chernigiv, then there were layoffs and she lost her job. And he has a daughter, the girl’s 12 now, she divorced with her husband. She found this advertisement with Adriy Krasnoyarov, with whom she was living. It happened that there was no job, but they had to earn for living, rent apartment, buy clothes for a child. They called but something seemed strange to them. But then they returned a call and assured them that everything’s okay. You know, they’re good psychologists there, know how to pull the strings, how to persuade, maybe they’re trained for this. So, they’re persuaded and went to that trap from Kyiv. Now, they both are sentenced to 11 years. He’s sent to the Tula region, she – to the Chuvashia”.
“To find out something, I call but nobody answers: send an official appeal, they say. I only ask something, they immediately hang up. Only after three months, we’ve managed to find out where’s she. After a while, she got in touch. This summer she often called. In the room, where she lived, there’re two of them – another girl gave birth to a child just in prison. Mine was left there with her. They even had a phone: that mommy’s relatives sent it with toys for a child. And they’we tried, like many, by the 210th article of the Russian Criminal Code, as an organized drug trafficking group. But it’s nonsense! They’re forced to sign the necessary for Russian law enforcement documents: either you sign for drugs or will be charged with terrorism. She: I won’t sign. And she didn’t have drugs with her when she was detained. When they caught our children there, the one beat, the other put drugs into the pockets. And someone was tossed drugs into the place they lived”.
“To return, they must be recognized as victims by Russia”
“This status – the victim of human trafficking – gives nothing for today”, states the head of the Democracy Development Centre. “First: our people must be recognized as victims by Russia. If they’re victims and there it isn’t recognized, they must be returned. Another way of returning to Ukraine: Ukrainian court recognizes Russian sentence and here they’re given the same term, they return and serve sentence in the Ukrainian colonies”.
However, Vira Volodiy explains if the person is recognized as a victim and has the status “the victim of human trafficking”, there should be another algorithm of actions towards such people. “In this case”, the woman is convinced, “they don’t have to serve the sentence, that’s why we appealed to our deputies and will do it again to make an amendment to the Criminal Code of Ukraine”. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking closely at the Russian captives because it looks like the Kremlin doesn’t really care whether it’s a political prisoner or a criminal in order to bitterly annoy Ukraine. And the Kremlin doesn’t care that these actions break human lives.
Text bу Larysa Vyshynska