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Turkish workers claim being kept by force at construction sites in Chechnya

November 23, 2011, 13:06 UTC+3

About 400 Turkish construction workers, who build the Grozny-City and several other major facilities in Chechnya

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MOSCOW, November 23 (Itar-Tass World Service) - About 400 Turkish construction workers, who build the Grozny-City and several other major facilities in Chechnya, have published on the Internet a video, where they are calling for help, the Izvestia writes. They claim that for several months they have been hostages in Chechnya: they are not receiving wages and the armed security keeps them at construction sites. Chechnya’s authorities and Turkish diplomats try to settle the situation.

The video clip shows the workers who say that in early summer of 2011 they were recruited for work at Chechnya’s major construction sites in Grozny, Gudermes and Argun. Turkey’s Penta Company with headquarters in Ankara is the contractor, the newspaper reports.

First of all, workers from Turkey were sent to build the Grozny-City – a complex of skyscrapers in Chechnya’s capital. The complex was opened with fanfare in October of the current year. The construction workers claim that in the beginning, the employer paid them properly, but payments’ delays began in two months already. Having waited for the wages for two months, the workers announced an ultimatum: they are ready to stop all the work if the debt is not covered. The construction’s managers reacted strangely to the demand: they send armed guard to the construction site, which did not allow the workers to leave the site.

Turkey’s 380 workers were in captivity. They began complaining over phones to their relatives, and later on published on the Internet their address to Turkey’s authorities. Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed to the Izvestia that they had received the message from their citizens and were trying to clear out the situation.

Chechnya’s authorities learned about the problems of the Turkish workers from the Izvestia’s reporter. The government of the republic called for the contractor, which employed the foreigners. As yet, there are no proofs of the conflict with the workers. “We have not found proofs for captivity of the workers by the armed guard at the construction sites,” Ramzan Kadyrov’s administration told the newspaper. “What we are facing are difficulties with sending workers to Turkey – some foreigners had problems with documents. Anyway, the hiring company should be responsible for the people.”

The Penta Company told the newspaper that the Turkish workers had blown up the scandal themselves. “They are behaving like children: just a little debt and they run to complain,” the company’s representative at Grozny, Elshan, told the Izvestia. “Believe me, they are fine – they have hot meals, live in hostels.” According to Elshan, most workers already now have an opportunity to return to Turkey.

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