The British public broadcaster BBC said it had evidence of several cases where foreigners were herded into a Russian military camp on the border with Ukraine.
Cases of people in detention centers being forced to sign contracts for military service are not new. However, their number began to increase with the arrival of a large number of migrants at the Finnish-Russian border, the BBC wrote.
The job offer documents that Russian officials presented to the migrants were in Russian and therefore often incomprehensible to foreigners.
“The contract documents were not handed over to us, nor were they properly shown. We asked what kind of work it would be, but they told us it was simple and good,” one of the Somali migrants told the BBC. Only later did it become clear that it was a contract for which they were sending migrants to fight in Ukraine. “I am an asylum seeker, not a soldier,” emphasized the Somali.
The BBC has made repeated requests for comment to Russia’s Interior Ministry, but it has gone unanswered.
Finland recently closed all eight Russian border crossings. It accused Moscow of funneling migrants and asylum seekers to Finland. An unprecedented number of foreigners who applied for refugee status began to appear at the Finnish border.
An analysis of court proceedings in Karelia, one of three Russian regions bordering Finland, showed that over the past three weeks, Russian police detained 236 people who were staying in Russia without valid visas and were destined for deportation. The situation was similar in the other two border regions – Leningrad and Murmansk.
Human rights groups say foreigners who use Russia as a transit point on their way to the West routinely overstay their short-term visas. When the Russian police started arresting people without valid visas in mid-November, it marked a change in the attitude towards migrants.