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16 May, 2024 06:13

Russia not ‘recruiting’ Indian citizens – Moscow

The Foreign Ministry has denied reports that the authorities are involved in enlisting people from the South Asian nation as mercenaries
Russia not ‘recruiting’ Indian citizens – Moscow

The Russian authorities are not “recruiting” citizens of India to sign contracts with the military, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

In response to a question from Indian media regarding videos of Indians allegedly deployed to the combat zone of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Zakharova stated that she does not have any information about these videos.

“As for recruitment, as you mentioned, none of the [Russian] officials are involved in this,” Zakharova said. She added that Moscow will look into “any specific information” it is provided with. 

Last week, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) announced it had arrested four people for involvement in a major human trafficking network active across India, “targeting gullible youths on the promise of offering lucrative jobs abroad.”

“These traffickers have been operating as an organized network and were luring Indian nationals through social media channels like YouTube etc. and also through their local contacts/agents for highly paid jobs in Russia,” the CBI said in a statement. It added that people were recruited in India on the pretext of better employment, but were later trained and deployed to the combat zone “against their wishes.”

According to the investigators, the human trafficking network is spread over several states in India and beyond. One of the persons accused, identified as Nijil Jobi Bensam, was working in Russia on a contract basis as translator. He is believed to be a key member of the network which allegedly facilitated the recruitment of Indians in the Russian military.

The others, including one person based in Dubai, were allegedly involved in processing visas and booking flights for victims to travel to Russia. The CBI statement added that the investigation is continuing against others accused of being part of the international network of human traffickers.

The CBI busted the network in March and conducted searched across 13 locations in India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai, and other cities. It has identified 17 visa consultancy companies which facilitated the process of recruiting and sending young people to Russia.

At the time, the CBI said it had recorded 35 instances of the conspiracy. However, media reports indicate that the total number of victims could be much higher. 

India’s Ministry of External Affairs earlier stated that New Delhi is “very actively pursuing” the matter with Moscow. “We are committed to bring back all the people who so far have gotten in touch with us and want to be released and repatriated and returned back home,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, said at a media briefing on April 25.

He added that ten people have already returned to India, noting that New Delhi has been “assured by the Russian side” that the other Indians will also be released and will return home. 

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