Russian Sex Workers Violated during Illegal Brothel Raids

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European Regional Correspondent
Source (institute/publication): 

During the night of 17th to 18th of May, Viacheslav Datsik and his supporters illegally raided a brothel (known as a “salon” in Russia) in St Petersburg where 10 sex workers were working. The salon was on the 11th Line of Vasilyevsky Island. He broke down the door and under the threat of beating the women working there he forced them to undress completely, and then took them to the police naked. He managed to carry out an attack on a similar establishment in central St Petersburg, but he was detained by the brothel’s security guards and was taken to the police station.

Datsik has a huge criminal background. He is an ex-fighter and boxer. Datsik has been imprisoned several times. He is a former member of the ultranationalist Slavic Union, which has similar political ideologies as Nazi Germany. The Slavic Union was banned in Russia because of their promotion of hatred. On the 17th of March, 2016 he was released from prison and at the end of April he said he intended to run for the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg. If elected, he has promised he will promote laws against sex work. Datsik believes the penalty for sex work in Russia should be forced labour instead of fines.

Datsik filmed all of the illegal raids and shared these videos with the media. The media did not cover the faces of sex workers and clients. On the video Datsik humiliates the client by asking him whether he wanted to transmit HIV to his wife. During the illegal raid, he used hateful speech and was violent towards an African sex worker.

After that Datsik forced the 10 sex workers and the client to follow him to the police station on foot. While walking he and his supporters continued humiliating the sex workers and the client, filming them with their cameras. They forced the naked women to wear leaflets with sexual advertisements. The neighbours filmed the naked women and posted their photos and videos on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and Russian social network Vkontakte.

After the sex workers were taken to the police, an administrative report for their “engagement in prostitution” was completed for each of them.

The members of Silver Rose, a sex workers-led organisation based in St Petersburg, immediately reacted to this accident. Three lawyers from Silver Rose arrived at the police station. For several hours sex workers did not have any clothes. They only had towels to cover their bodies.

According to Irina Maslova, the leader of Silver Rose, this is not the first time Datsik has committed crimes against sex workers. In the past he threatened and raped several sex workers. “What he did is a crime against people that have civic rights. He should be held accountable. We will do all possible and impossible to hold him accountable. We will write to the Commissioner for Human Rights. He should go to the prison. In 2015 Russia received the recommendation from CEDAW to remove the punitive article 6.11 that criminalises sex workers. We will insist on implementation of this recommendation.”

At the moment the police have charged Datsik under Article 119 (Threat of murder motivated by hatred towards a social group) Article 330 (Fraud) and Article 167 (intentional damage to property) of the Criminal Code.

NSWP will continue to monitor this case, and demands the Russian state ensure the protection of the rights of sex workers.