REPORT: Russia Hiring North Korean ‘Slave’ Labor, Ignoring UN Sanctions

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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Russia has reportedly continued hiring North Korean laborers to live under “slave-like” conditions, despite sanctions from the United Nations against the practice, The Telegraph reported Friday.

Documents reported on by the Telegraph show that Russia has approved work permits for at least 1,237 new North Korean workers, despite the U.N. banning the practice in September 2017 in an attempt to sanction North Korea. North Korea garners roughly $2.3 billion per year by sending out roughly 100,000 workers to labor in foreign countries under terrible conditions.

“It’s not just slavery conditions, it’s a slavery psychology and a slavery situation,” said activist Svetlana Gannushkina, who has helped several North Koreans in Russia seek asylum. “The victims agree to his situation, because they are raised this way, and those who start to resist are incredibly strong.” (RELATED: Human Remains From North Korea ‘Consistent With Being American’)

The vast majority of workers go to Russia and China, where the U.S. has sanctioned several banks for sending “illicit” funds to North Korea. Those in charge of hiring admit openly to doing so.

“We are doing this, we’ve hired new ones, and we have the old ones,” Malsar Khuseinov told The Telegraph, going on to say the implication of U.N. sanctions was “a question for our government.”

“They don’t come here on their own,” he said. “You need to call Putin.”

This isn’t the first time Russia and China have stood in the way of Western penalties against North Korea. The U.S. called for a halt on all oil shipments to North Korea in July, but China and Russia pushed back.

The U.S. asserts North Korea has violated the cap imposed on the country by United Nations sanctions resolutions through secretive transfer activities at sea, presumably involving Russian and Chinese tankers. Moscow and Beijing are demanding more details on U.S. intelligence on this particular issue.

North Korean vessels were involved in at least 89 ship-to-ship transfers between Jan. 1 and May 30, illegally importing as much as three times the amount permitted by the United Nations (500,000 barrels).

“If fully loaded at around 90 percent laden, [North Korean] tankers have delivered nearly triple the 2018 quota at 1,367,628 barrels,” a U.S. report on the matter to the UN revealed July 12.

As North Korea has yet to start the process of denuclearization, the U.S. is determined to maintain “maximum pressure” on the country, but Pyongyang’s international backers, namely China and Russia, are resistant. Both Moscow and Beijing have called for the relaxation of sanctions on North Korea.

“I think that it is only natural that we should be thinking about steps in that direction,” Vassily Nebenzia, Russian ambassador to the UN, argued Wednesday. China has made similar calls.

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