Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Labour trafficking is the predominant human trafficking problem within Russia, accelerating in the context of Russia’s significant increase in labour migration. Official and unofficial statistics estimate that there are between 5 million and 12 million foreign workers in Russia. Many of these migrant workers experience exploitative labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of documents, non-payment for services rendered, physical abuse, or extremely poor living conditions. During 2013, workers from Russia and other countries in Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and North Korea, were subjected to forced labour in Russia. Instances of labour trafficking have been reported in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, grocery store, maritime, and domestic service industries, as well as in forced begging, waste sorting, and street sweeping; trafficking also continued to be prevalent in textile and garment factories. In 2013 tens of thousands of migrant labourers entered Russia to work on the construction of major events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Many of these workers were subjected to conditions of forced labour and were subsequently deported or detained by the Russian authorities without any efforts to identify them as possible victims of trafficking.
Complicity of Russian officials in trafficking in the country including providing protection to traffickers and returning trafficking victims to their exploiters, as well as bribes to avoid enforcement of penalties for employing illegal workers, have been reported. Organized crime syndicates from Russia were also involved in arranging trafficking.
According to the Federal Migration Service, under a state-to-state agreement, approximately 20,000 North Korean citizens are imported annually by the North Korea government for work in Russia in a variety of sectors, including the logging industry in Russia’s Far East. Many of these North Korean citizens are reportedly subjected to conditions of forced labour.
Russian citizens are also subjected to forced labour abroad.
Reports of Russian women and children subjected to sex trafficking in many countries, including in Northeast Asia, Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as internally. Children and women from European (predominantly Ukraine and Moldova), Southeast Asian (primarily Vietnam), African, and Central Asian countries are reportedly forced into prostitution in Russia.
Russia is rated as a Tier 3 Country by the US Department of State’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report indicating that the Government of Russia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
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