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article imageRussian police kidnap, enslave migrant workers, ex-cop claims

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By Laura Trowbridge     Mar 9, 2010 in Crime
Russia's elite police force, the Omon, has been accused by a former Omon officer of kidnapping groups of migrant working men and forcing them into slave labor on police construction projects.
Larisa Krepkova was the senior dog trainer for the Omon until she began witnessing brutality she could not ignore. She told Sky News that fellow officers were regularly seizing the migrants looking for work who lined up by the roadside, and would beat these men into submission.
Krepkova said, "They broke ribs, broke legs and kicked faces until, after this demonstration of force, the workers stopped resisting their actions. They threw them into vans, took away their documents and mobile phones - then they brought them to the base and made them work for nothing."
She went on to say the migrants were forced to work on the private homes of the senior Omon officers.
Krepkova, who now works as a security guard for a block of Moscow flats, has been getting anonymous threatening phone calls telling her to quit talking about what she has witnessed. She wants everyone to know what is going on and is not backing down to the intimidation.
Shakir, a migrant worker from Uzbekistan, came to Moscow to earn money to send back to his family. He says the Omon forced him into slave labor.
"They came early in the morning with their vans while people were sleep. They were shouting: 'wake up, wake up'. They took 10 or 20 of us away and I was forced to cut wood and others were forced to dig trenches for cables," Shakir claimed.
When Sky News contacted the Interior Ministry about the alleged abuse a spokesperson told them:
"If you accuse someone of any crime, you have to go to court, to the police or the prosecutor's office and give them the facts. This information has no proof."
Around 80 percent of migrant workers in Moscow are there illegally.
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