Forced Labour Modern Slavery Trafficking

The Missing Citizens of Russia

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[Martyna Żuchowska]

…defenceless humans are only treated as a means to make money for the recruiters and their lives essentially have a price tag on them.

This week on 30 Million to None, we are acknowledging the efforts and bravery of two men in Russia who are freeing people from modern slavery.

Zakir Ismailov and Alexey Nikitin are anti-modern slavery activists who free workers from Russia’s federal subject, Dagestan.

Tens of thousands of people go missing in Moscow each year because of the kidnappings that occur due to slavery. Recruiters prey on people at public places in Moscow like train stations, and attempt to find the most vulnerable looking people. One of the tactics used to kidnap individuals is to drug them and put them on a 23 hour long bus ride South of Moscow, to Dagestan. These kidnappers earn around 520 dollars per person that they manage to sell to brick-factory owners, who then exploit these people and force them to work without pay. This tells us that these defenceless humans are only treated as a means to make money for the recruiters and their lives essentially have a price tag on them.

Zakir and Alexey once worked as journalists but their passion for this cause has lead them to the life of activism. These brave men usually only have a photo of a missing person, a name or/and a physical description when they go out looking for them. The Russians go searching in Dagestan themselves and attempt to identify the missing people they are looking for. There are hundreds of brick factories in the area, some being hidden in the mountains, which creates a lot of work for the two Russians. Dagestan is home to a lot of violence and corruption which makes the activists’ job very dangerous and difficult. They have been subjected to beatings and death threats in the past for saving missing people, which highlights the idea that many citizens in the area are benefiting from this free slave labour. Zakir and Alexey have to be extremely careful when entering the factories so they always leave as soon as they have found the missing person they were looking for.

The activists’ organisation is called ‘Alternativa‘ which is a page on a Russian social network website, that works like Facebook. On this page the men post pictures and descriptions of missing men who have been reported missing and likely to have unfortunately found themselves in one of the labour factories. These men have saved approximately 700 people in the 7 years they have been working as activists. Thanks to the efforts of these courageous activists, lives are being spared from brutal work without pay and isolation from the world. People like this need to be celebrated for their efforts and recognised as heroes.

Make Noise

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