Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Russia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Russia, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Russia (Tier 2)

Russia is a major source country for women trafficked to numerous countries globally for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Russia is also reported to be a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons for sexual and labor exploitation. Reportedly, women from former Soviet countries are transited through Russia to Gulf States, Europe, and North America for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Russia is also increasingly understood as a destination country for labor trafficking both within the former Soviet Union and from neighboring countries. Internal trafficking is also reported to exist.

The Government of Russia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Efforts made in the reporting period will need to be strengthened in light of the scale of the trafficking problem. However, central government officials showed a strong increase in political will to recognize and confront their trafficking problem, and recent efforts to initiate new reforms were positive. Russia's legal structure still does not allow for effective prosecution of traffickers, nor for victim assistance, and efforts to prosecute traffickers for related crimes have been largely unsuccessful. The Government of Russia must adopt and actively implement both the criminal and protective elements of the proposed legislation, and as a major source country, focus on a nation-wide, effective prevention campaign is also strongly needed.


The government did not sponsor a comprehensive anti-trafficking campaign, but engaged in a number of public awareness events, aimed both at the general public and potential victims. The Deputy Chair of the Duma Legislative Committee chaired a legislative working group, which conducted a series of national and international conferences to educate various constituents of the anti-trafficking community and design a national action plan. The working group participated in over 50 press events arranged by the group's press liaison, including placing articles with discussion of trafficking in Russia in major newspapers and magazines, conducting discussions on Russian television and radio, showing a dramatic film on the trafficking of a young Russian girl to a cross-cutting group of public professionals and leaders with educational discussions before and after the film. Regionally, the Governments of Irkutsk and Khabarovsk established anti-TIP commissions which include information-sharing and research, and some regional governments and police sent their officers to trainings offered by NGOs. In one region, Yekaterinburg, the local government encourages its officers to work with the NGOs in prevention programs. The regional response is not directed by the central government and while the geographic immensity of Russia requires a local government approach, it has not been consistent or widespread.


Russia does not currently have anti-trafficking legislation, although it does have legislation against slavery, rape, and falsification of documents. One major obstacle to active investigations and prosecutions has been the weak legal structure related to trafficking crimes, and the small number of investigations conducted in the past year mostly failed for lack of evidence. A high level multi-agency legislative review working group drafted a comprehensive new anti-trafficking draft law criminalizing trafficking in persons and establishing victim assistance and protection. As of April 2003, the criminal trafficking elements were being incorporated into the President's omnibus criminal code revision while the special law proceeded through readings in Parliament. The government passed a new criminal procedure code which allows greater protections for victims and witnesses in court proceedings, and which allows prosecution in Russia of Russian citizens who engage in crimes abroad, including trafficking-related crimes. The Prosecutor General's office established a new office on international cooperation mandated to fulfill requests from foreign governments on mutual legal assistance. The Ministry of Internal Affairs cooperated in two ongoing international trafficking investigations with the US, and assisted French law enforcement in investigation of a trafficking ring dismantled in October of 2002. In 2002, the Governments of Russia and the United States conducted a joint operation against child exploitation and trafficking in Russia, resulting in several ongoing investigations in Russia, and some final convictions. Regarding investigations against employment and recruitment agencies, agents of two firms were prosecuted in relation to the preparation of false documents. Police do not respond actively to victims' complaints pursuant to the belief that any criminally proscribed behavior, such as slavery and rape, mostly happens after victims have left their jurisdiction. In the far eastern region where trafficking from China is a concern, the Ministry of Internal Affairs created a special unit to focus on migration-related crimes and sexual exploitation of migrants, with a particular interest in trafficking. In an effort to decrease the incidence of corruption in the police and judiciary, President Putin quadrupled the salary of judges and doubled the salary of police. The government instituted a Code of Civil Service Behavior also in an attempt to prevent corruption.


NGO's active throughout Russia mostly report positive cooperation with local police and government counterparts, but many also report corruption as a major hindrance. The central government does not provide assistance to victims nor does it support NGOs providing assistance, but some regional governments cooperate with local NGOs. Central government authorities did not establish a referral mechanism, but some regional governments did, most notably in the high-risk region of Irkutsk. Current federal law provides mechanisms for victim rights and witness protection during court proceedings, including the right to question the defendant and seek compensation from the defendant without filing a separate civil suit. As trafficking in persons is not yet a prosecutable crime, this cannot yet be measured for trafficking victims. Amendments to witness protection laws will enhance existing protection, and the Ministry of Interior established a new witness protection unit.

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