Friday, September 8, 2023

17 people are detained in Cuba for recruiting young men to fight for Russia in Ukraine


HAVANA: In connection with a human trafficking ring that allegedly enticed young Cuban men to serve in the Russian military during the conflict in Ukraine, Cuban authorities claimed to have made 17 arrests.

This week, Cuba said that authorities were working to "neutralize and dismantle" the network, which it said was active in Russia as well as on Cuban soil.

Cesar Rodriguez, a colonel with Cuba's interior ministry, stated late on Thursday on a television program, "As a result of the investigations, 17 people have been arrested so far, among whom is the internal organizer of these activities." He was speaking about the situation.

Rodriguez said that the leader of the group relied on two people who lived on the island to recruit Cubans to fight for hire for Russia in Ukraine, but he did not name any of the people who are accused of being part of the ring.

According to Jose Luis Reyes, the prosecutor, those involved in the scandal could face up to 30 years in prison, a life sentence, or the death penalty, depending on the severity and nature of their offenses, which include human trafficking, fighting as a mercenary, and hostile action against a foreign nation.

Russia has long been a popular destination for Cuban migrants seeking to escape domestic economic stagnation because of its close political ties to communist-ruled Cuba.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing fast-track citizenship for foreigners who sign up for service in the Russian army.

Cuba asserts that it opposes the use of its citizens as mercenaries and denies taking part in the war in Ukraine.

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