Dagestan: Modern day slave freed after 18 years in captivity

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Anti-slavery activists have freed a Russian man being held captive in the Northern Caucasus Dagestan Republic after he was subjected to 18 years of forced labour and imprisonment.

Sergei Khlivnoi, a former sailor born in 1971, was captured in 1996 in the Dagestani port town of Kaspiisk where he was forced to work at a brick factory.

Khlivnoi told reporters that his passport was stolen and that during his time at the brick factory he was kept behind a barbed wire fence guarded by his captors. He escaped the factory after a few months of imprisonment, after which he was re-captured by another group of men and taken to a cattle farm in a remote mountainous area of Dagestan, where he was chained up at night and forced to work long hours in the day.

Khlivnoi was finally freed early this month with the help of anti-slavery group Alternative, who worked with the police last year to free 8 slaves in Russia.

Despite slavery being outlawed globally it is believed that millions of people still live as slaves, or under slave-like conditions across the world. Cases like Khlivnoi’s are rare, but sadly not unique. In 2011 The Moscow Times reported on the case of Andrei Popov, a soldier who went missing for over a decade claiming he had been held captive and also forced to work in a brick factory in Dagestan. Despite support from anti-slavery campaigns Popov was charged with desertion from the army and sentenced to two years in a penal colony before his freedom was finally granted.

Following being freed from captivity Khlivnoi was escorted by members of Alternative to his home in Northern Russia. Campaigners feared that travelling alone would put him at danger of being recaptured, or arrested by authorities because of his lack of official documents.

Alternative are now working with police officials on an investigation into the case, though Khlivnoi has stated that he has no desire to press charges.

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