Migration and slavery as instrument in Russian-Ukrainian war

Amid the absence of free media and the complete control of Putin’s regime over television, the Kremlin is trying to create a monopoly on information. YouTube, in its turn, seems to be the only communication medium between the Russian opposition and the general public — Russian citizens representing different strata of society. 

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which are sometimes totally unknown and not attractive to ordinary Russian citizens, Vkontakte being long fully controlled by the KGB, TikTock being controlled and censored by China, and Instagram is focused chiefly on non-political content, YouTube is a platform that covers different needs for different target audiences. Being not only a medium for video content but also a place to find like-minded people, YouTube also becomes a platform for public discussion, as far as possible, in Russia. 

The Russian segment of YouTube offers all possible content, from aggressive state propaganda to channels that position themselves as oppositional — but critical narratives may be shared for both. YouTube algorithms target their videos to the perfect slice of Russian society — this is how the ideas become viral. Being primarily targeted to users who know Russian or to some areas of Russia, these messages often remain unknown to a broad audience. 

Thousands of anti-regime videos on oppositional (or “oppositional”) channels are either mirroring the Kremlin rhetoric in the “softer” light or pushing their agenda. After a year of a large-scale war, all the relevant movements’ prominent and credible experts (from the academic field to typical “talking heads”) articulating messages that are worthy of attention — all of them are now represented on YouTube, and this is the defining feature of Russian media space. 

The HWAG team does not seek to evaluate these channels themselves and their motives, and whether their position and objectives may coincide with Ukrainian ones. Our new project is aimed to introduce the English-speaking audience, who cannot consume Russian content directly due to either the language barrier or the peculiarities of YouTube algorithms, with materials and statements that we find worth your valuable time and attention.

In recent years, the Russian government has been accused of waging a war against Ukraine by deploying various illegal instruments. According to UN statistics, there are 11.5 million migrants in Russia, making it easier for Russian authorities to gain Russian citizenship and stimulate migrants to relocate to the occupied territories of Ukraine. This neo-colonial approach, combined with the use of forced labor and military service, is how Russia is implementing its war against Ukraine. Here are key themes from the video dedicated to institutionalized slavery in Russia used not only as an instrument of creating cheap labor but also as a weapon of war.

Russian authorities have been known to stimulate migrants to go to the occupied territories of Ukraine as a form of neo-colonization. They do this by offering them easier access to Russian citizenship and the potential for mobilization.

Reports have surfaced of labor migrants being taken from Moscow to Mariupol on 20 buses with 53 people each. It is speculated that these people were being taken to Mariupol for forced labor, debris removal, and even military service. Those who were coerced into military service were deceived into signing a contract without understanding the contents, with only 30 seconds to do so.

Despite this, many people go to the occupied Ukrainian territories deliberately, driven by monetary incentives or the promise of a better life. Those who are exploited to demolish debris or join the military as the most vulnerable group with limited access to knowledge and resources to protect themselves.

This is how Russia implements the neo-colonization strategy in the occupied territories of Ukraine. Russian citizenship implies the mobilization The Russian regime uses slavery not only as an instrument to create cheap labor but also as an instrument of war against Ukraine. There are about 800.000 slaves in Russia, and this illegal activity turned into a state-sponsored business. 

There are some most significant quotes of human rights defenders and lawyers who works in this field:

We called for publicity in our groups that someone had got a summon to the military registration or some Sakharov was forced to sign a contract about volunteer military service with the use of fraud. And they give you a big sheet of paper and you have 30 seconds to sign it. A person simply does not have time to read everything written there, not to mention that person may not master Russian language and therefore not understand what is written there, and there is small print. A person signs something without knowing what, and when he gets a patent they congratulate him that he signed up to volunteer military service in the Russian army.” Valentina Chupik

People go there [to the occupied Ukrainian territories] deliberately, mostly for money. In the occupied territories, there is always a risk that people will be forced to work in the name of motherland and defense. And people who get Russian citizenship are not released to return home because of the mobilization. And they cannot leave Russia.” Botirjon Shermuhammad

They give summons to military registration even to people with residence permit. The recruitment offices have their own mobilization plans and they send summons to military registration left and right to recruit at  least anyone.” Botirjon Shermuhammad

Russian officials use blackmail, and threaten people with the criminal case for statutory rape if people refuse to sign contract.” Valentina Chupik

Those who got suspended prison sentence were forced to sign these contracts, some people got summon to military registration, even though they were not even Russian citizens. 

Discrimination of migrants of “non-Slavic origin” in Russia exists on many levels: from selling mortgages to Slavic people only to setting the prices for human trafficking: $300 per head at retail, $250 when buying from 1000 slaves. Nothing changes, this is the entrenched folk tradition of external labor migration.

Nothing changed. Russians have incited inter-ethnic hostility before — and so they do now” Isomiddin Muhiddin

There are some place for your reflection:

Migration and slavery as instrument in Russian-Ukrainian war

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Did you know before this article about discrimination of migrants in Russia?

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Do you believe that Russia uses modern-slaves as an instrument in war?