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Viewing cable 09YEREVAN494, ARMENIA CONTINUES AGGRESSIVE PROSECUTION OF TRAF...

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09YEREVAN494 2009-07-15 07:07 2011-02-18 00:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Yerevan
Appears in these articles:
http://rusrep.ru/article/2011/02/07/trafficking/
VZCZCXRO7570
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHYE #0494 1960748
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150748Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9291
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
UNCLAS YEREVAN 000494 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR DRL, EUR/CARC, INL/AAE JUDITH CAMPBELL 
DOJ/USDOJ FOR CATHERINE NEWCOMBE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KTIP KCRM HSTC AM
SUBJECT:  ARMENIA CONTINUES AGGRESSIVE PROSECUTION OF TRAF...
UNCLAS YEREVAN 000494 SENSITIVE SIPDIS STATE FOR DRL, EUR/CARC, INL/AAE JUDITH CAMPBELL DOJ/USDOJ FOR CATHERINE NEWCOMBE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL KTIP KCRM HSTC AM

SUMMARY

1. (SBU) A major trafficking in persons trial involving two Russian nationals began July 6 in Yerevan. The defendants -- a mother and her daughter -- are accused of trafficking into Armenia, and exploiting as striptease dancers, 24 trafficking victims from Russia. In addition to trafficking charges, the accused are standing trial for money laundering. This is the type of vigorous prosecution that the USG applauds, and which it has been training and pushing the GOAM to pursue for years. END SUMMARY.

MOTHER AND DAUGTHER TRAFFICKERS

2. (SBU) As reported in reftel, Russian nationals Yelena and Vera Kaliakinas were arrested in Yerevan in July 2008. Yelena Kaliakina, together with her common law partner Vadim Taranov (now wanted in Russia) and her daughter Vera Kaliakina, had been recruiting and trafficking victims into Armenia and exploiting them as striptease dancers since 2005. They located their victims in the Russian city of Volgograd through an employment agency that offered them an opportunity to earn money as they learned and performed exotic dances and choreography. Once the victims had been trafficked into Armenia, however, they had their passports confiscated, were subjected to violence or threats of violence, and were forced by their traffickers to pay off fraudulent charges through continued labor as dancers in various night clubs. Some of the trafficking victims reportedly remained in this situation for up to four years.

3. (SBU) The Kaliakinas were charged under articles 132 and 132-1 (trafficking) of the Armenian Criminal Code, as well as under article 190, which criminalizes the legalization of income gained by criminal means. This is the first-ever trafficking criminal case where the authorities have applied the money laundering statute and frozen the assets of the accused. The traffickers face a possible sentence of 7-12 years under the TIP statutes, and 6-12 years in prison and confiscation of property under the money laundering statute. Significantly, the prosecutors trying the case have qualified the alleged crime as an "other type of sexual trafficking" rather than "labor trafficking." (NOTE: The Russian Embassy has showed no interest in the case and, unlike US Embassy personnel, no Russian diplomatic personnel have attended the trial. END NOTE.)

VICTIMS REFERRED FOR ASSISTANCE

4. (SBU) When police uncovered the traffickers in July 2008, they promptly referred 13 victims -- all of those who were held by the traffickers at the time -- for shelter and assistance to the Yerevan trafficking victims shelter run by the local NGO of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Seven of the victims have remained in Armenia, continuing to work as dancers on a voluntary basis. At least five of them have showed up at the court hearings, one has already testified, and the written statements of the other victims will be received into evidence at the trial. (NOTE: Throughout the case the police, prosecutors and the judge have been treating the victims in an exceptionally respectful manner, notwithstanding their compromised social standing. END NOTE.)

COMMENT

5. (SBU) Post continues to monitor actively the various trafficking-related criminal cases that reach Armenian courts. The Kaliakinas case is one of three trafficking trials currently taking place. We continue to see and welcome the new level of maturity and willingness by Armenian law enforcement and the judiciary to address the trafficking issue seriously.

YOVANOVITCH