Russia charges 6 Vietnamese factory owners for enslaving compatriots

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Six Vietnamese in Russia have been charged with using slave labor, setting up a criminal gang and abetting illegal immigration, after police found them running illegal garment factories employing 1,200 Vietnamese nationals.

An Itar-Tass report last Thursday quoted a source from the Russian Interior Ministry as saying that the unidentified six "had set up a consolidated group to use slave labor comprising Vietnamese citizens and persons from other states staying in Russia illegally."

Police said the suspects had set up factories, where the workers also lived, in areas with "minimal and insufficient sanitary norms and labor conditions."

They said the workers, including the suspects' compatriots and foreigners, were forced to work as their passports had been taken away and they could not return to their countries or claim their civil rights in Russia.

All the suspects are in custody.

Their factories were found on July 31 during regular police checks of areas frequented by migrants in Moscow after a police officer was attacked by an angry mob at a market in June and seriously injured.

More than 900 officers were then deployed for the raids, and they took in 1,200 Vietnamese and 200 others from Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.

AFP quoted the police as saying that the workers were found making clothes with fake designer labels.

A number of their passports were found to be forged.

Some of the Vietnamese have been deported and more than 200 others were sent to the inhabited island of Severny.

The Russian police have recently raided many illegal garment factories outside Moscow, each employing hundreds of Vietnamese workers.

The BBC, which helped expose a Vietnamese-run garment workshop using slave labor August last year, reported that there are dozens of sweatshops run by Vietnamese in Russia employing thousands of Vietnamese workers.

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