There are an estimated 794,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Russia (GSI 2018). Forced labour remains the predominant form of human trafficking in the country. Labour trafficking has been reported in the construction, manufacturing, logging, textile, and maritime industries, as well as in sawmills, agriculture, sheep farms, grocery and retail shops, restaurants, waste sorting, street sweeping, domestic service, and forced begging. Many migrant workers experience exploitative labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of identity documents, non-payment for services rendered, physical abuse, lack of safety measures, or extremely poor living conditions.
Edel, a 47-year-old man from Uzbekistan was kidnapped on the way to Russia. His passport was taken, and he was forced to work making mats from cane and sleep in a cattle shed.
I lived and spent my childhood in a village near Tashkent, in Uzbekistan. I am 47. I have a family, with four children and wife. After the collapse of the [Soviet] Union I did not manage to get a new green passport, as there were long queues. Without a passport I was often refused things. Previously I had worked, but the enterprise was closed and they stopped paying me. Then I went to Russia. In Kazakhstan some people took us off the bus. They were camouflaged, six of them. They told us that it was a document check. They took us to a cattle-shed. It was already dark, and under the pretext of a document check they took away my passport. We ended up living in thiscattle shed. We slept on mats that we made ourselves. There was a lake there, we were forced to cut down cane and make mats from it. They then sold them. They did not allow us to go anywhere.
[There were] Perhaps 14 persons, all from different places, even Koreans.
We fished and made soup.
They beat us if we made mistakes.
[The conditions were] Very difficult. There were snakes there which bit me several times. I was there under the sun and heat for a year and a half.
[my work-day was] from sunrise until darkness. Without holiday. An old man died because of a heart attack.
The guards watched us with dogs.
No, [the people who kept us were] different nationalities. Kazakhs, Slavs, Tatars. Then their organization became weaker and we managed to escape and reach Russia by freight train. I had no documents. Because of that I could not go home. I haven’t managed to find much work here either. I just earn some money at the vegetable market, unloading fruit and vegetables. There are plenty of us with similar stories - lack of documents, lack of registration.
I heard talked that they [my former exploiters] had been burned.
Narrative credit to International Labour Organization
Original narrative found in report ‘Forced Labour in the Russian Federation Today: Irregular Migration and Trafficking in Human Beings’