The other side of the “m/v SS Veles enslaved crew” story

The Russian Investigations Committee has launched criminal proceedings over the reported enslaving of13 Russian sailors, who are said to be doing unpaid work aboard a vessel SS Veles at the Philippine seaport of Rio Tuba. The sailors are understood to be kept by the ship owners under lock and key, without proper nourishment or hygiene.

Russia beyond the headlines Asia:

When the story hit the headlines in April, it wasn’t ever said anywhere, by any media, that the crew was kept under the lock. The whole story was inspired and kept afire by Pyotr Osichanskiy, ITF inspector in Vladivostok. The crew didn’t ask him for help directly, Mr. Osichanskiy said he received a letter from a relative of one of the crew, and also, “he was told by a person who knows the crew”. According to the owner of the vessel, crew had enough supplies and agreed to wait for wages to be paid after the vessel sale. Vessel was on sale.

On the wake of nation-wide scandal Primorsk region deputy governor flew to Philippine to “save” the crew, or to be more exact, to gain some political points. He returned to Vladivostok with SS Veles crew. Quite recently, Mr. Osichanskiy regretted the return of the crew, because it deprived them of any hope to get their wages. He said, that the crew should stay on board and wait till the vessel is sold, ITF was willing to provide the crew with a lawyer (meaning ITF figured out it will profit from the sale, too, as it regularly happens in cases like this one).

Now of course, the SS Veles crew have no chance of getting their wages back, because, again thanks to vigorous Mr Osichanskiy, two directors and owners of the company which operated the vessel are under arrest, undergoing investigation on criminal charges. According to the information I have, Mr. Osichanskiy was hounding the owners for quite a time, trying to grab some of their business (read the story “The family business of ITF inspectors” )

The whole story needs impersonal investigation, but there is no chance such an investigation will ever be carried out. I can’t remember a case when the authorities didn’t fall in for unionists tips (or whistle-blowing), and stand up for ship owners instead. If the owners of the vessel provide me with their side of the story, I’ll publish it. Right now we have only one side as presented by Mr. Osichanskiy, who it seems, has in the whole story his own, personal interest.

Voytenko Mikhail


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