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10 Jun, 2008 17:43

Alleged slave drivers detained in Moscow

Russian police have freed 49 people from Uzbekistan who they say were being held against their will in the Moscow region. A group of Azerbaijani nationals have been detained on suspicion of kidnapping the men and forcing them to clean vegetables.

Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs says the freed men wanted to work in Russia, but were illegally trafficked to the Moscow region from Central Asia.

Their passports were then taken from them.

They are reported to have been forced to work up to 14 hours a day cleaning onions and were threatened with violence if they refused to obey the alleged kidnappers.

If proved guilty, the traffickers could spend up to 15 years in prison.

“Our officers have planned and carried out a special operation in which they freed almost 50 illegal immigrants. They were trafficked to a warehouse, where they were forced to clean onions for up to 14 hours a day for very little money. They weren’t allowed to leave the warehouse and were fined for breaking rules. Currently 13 people have agreed to co-operate with investigators,” said Evgeny Artemov from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.