Robbing the Russians

by Nathan Hamm on 4/28/2004 · 1 comment

The Uzbek capacity to take advantage of Russians never ceases to amaze me. Back in the 70s, Uzbek nationalism manifested itself as an enormous system of state thievery (PDF, and you want to look on page 14) in which the Uzbek SSR overstated cotton production and charged Moscow for all that they “sold” to the USSR. And we’re not talking small fries either. Oil-for-Food was amateurish compared to 25 years of 25% markups.

So, though you’ve got to feel for the victims, you also gotta hand it to an Uzbek mafia for figuring out how to rob Russians (presumably) blind in Korea!

The gang identified their victims through travel agencies in Vladivostok, Russia, selecting people looking for jobs in Korea. After picking up the job-searchers at the airport, the gang took them to Cheonan, stripped them of their passports and turned them over to factories in the Gyeonggi area. The gang received 231,000 won ($200) per person from the factory, and 115,000 won per month from the workers in exchange for linking them up with the jobs. Since forming the gang last May, the group has amassed around 76 million won from 74 people.
Most of the victims were workers who entered Korea on tourist visas or students whose visas had expired. The gangsters threatened to harm worker’s family members back home if the victims didn’t make their monthly payments.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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