(MENAFN- UkrinForm) In Russia, at least 12 migrants detained near the Finnish border were recruited to take part in the war in Ukraine, being promised a 12-month contract "with a decent allowance and healthcare" without being expelled from the country or banned from entering it.
This was reported by the Russian BBC service with reference to a Somalian fugitive, Ukrinform saw.
Awad, a Somali, whose real name is not disclosed, fled his country due to attacks by Islamist militants. In July 2023, he ended up in Moscow. Awad planned to travel to Germany to reunite with his pregnant wife and son, who had moved earlier.
After unsuccessful attempts to illegally cross the border with Poland in Belarus, the man returned to Russia, but at that moment his tourist visa had expired. Having crossed into Belarus once again, he learned that it became easier to cross the border with Finland, so he went up to Russia's Karelia, along with several other Somalis, who ended up in the town of Lakhdenpohya. Read also:
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A police patrol stopped their cab on the Sortavala Highway and detained all passengers. According to Awad, after being held for the night in a local military unit, they were brought to court and fined, and the court also ruled to deport the men. The man was then put into custody at the Center for Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals in Petrozavodsk.
On day 6, the group were offered a deal: they would "work for the government", otherwise they would be expelled from the country and banned from entering Russia. As Awad noted, the exact provisions of the contract remained unclear to him, as he could not read any paperwork in Russian. He knows that it was a one-year contract for "simple and decent" work involving an allowance, healthcare, and the right to stay in Russia.
As a result, 12 people signed the contract - six Somalis, a Cuban, and five Arabs. Then they traveled on a bus for around two days to a guarded tent camp near the border with Ukraine (the exact location is unknown). "They brought us on November 27, and on the 28th we recalled our signatures," said the Somali. Because of this, foreigners heard prison sentence threats.
On December 4, they were promised to have their contracts terminated and returned to the Temporary Detention Center. Paperwork to this effect has already been served to four Somalis, but Awad never saw the document.
In another such case, an Iraqi man confirmed to journalists the report about Russia recruiting foreigners. "My visa expired, I decided to get to Finland and ask for asylum, but I was arrested. And then they offered a choice: either I join the mercenaries, or return to Iraq and be banned from entering Russia for five years," he said.
As reported, due to the large inflow of asylum seekers, on November 18, Finland closed four checkpoints on the border with Russia. On November 22, the country's prime minister announced the closure of all checkpoints on the border with the Russian Federation, except for the northern Rai-Yosepi. On November 28, the authorities announced the temporary closure of all checkpoints on the border with Russia.
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