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.
Danyil*, a 33-year-old man from Uzbekistan travelled to Russia for work after hearing about job opportunities from his friends. Danyil was not registered to work in Russia and was arrested by police. After Danyil’s employer bailed him out of jail, he had to work to pay off his debt.
I came from Nukus city, Uzbekistan. I have Uzbek citizenship. In 1990, I served in the armed forces of Uzbekistan. I am a graduate of a metalwork college and worked as a metalworker in Nukus. I earned little. I tried to create my own business (selling goods from Russia) but it failed. I worked in construction. But in Uzbekistan, this is not in demand as there are not many rich persons. In addition, nationalism and discrimination against foreigners is widespread in both soft and more aggressive forms. In soft forms, Uzbeks give more or less good jobs only to their relatives or persons belonging to their group. More aggressively - [ethnic] Russians are subject to direct threats, constant oppression and are pushed from the country. But the main reason for coming to Russia is the absence of work (complete unemployment) and extremely low wages. I learnt about the possibility of earning money in Russia from friends. I also learnt that although it is possible to earn more in Russia, the living conditions and degree of safety there are much worse. So I went directly to the North Caucasus, together with other acquaintances (10 to 15 persons). We drove in a bus, the trip lasted two to three weeks. We paid US$100 to leave - it is a very big sum in Uzbekistan. Having arrived, our documents were taken away for temporary registration. We couldn’t move independently - without documents, in an unknown city. I basically had no choice of place of work. Perhaps, one could leave an employer, but it might appear even worse from the point of view of possible problems with authorities. I partially work without payment (for example, tile laying in bathrooms and swimming pools), as I work for persons who legalize my status and status of other migrants. Usually registration is arranged for 3-6 months. My boss has a man who is doing it. But it is not always possible to get registration. Without it I effectively cannot go to the city. Two years ago they arrested me and I spent a night at Leninsky police station. The boss came and bailed me out, then I had to work off the debt.
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’