12.03.2021 Article

From Russia With Love - Part 2

DUTCH SYRIANS: The children were forced to drink alcohol. The women were beaten.
By Taras Zozulinsky and Paa Kwesi Plange
Paa Kwesi PlangePaa Kwesi Plange
12.03.2021 LISTEN

(This article is the second instalment of a series on cross-border investigation into the activities of a human trafficking syndicate based in Ukraine.

The article reveals harrowing tales of hundreds of migrants from Africa, Syria and Afghanistan who are illegally transported to the European Union through Ukraine by criminal gangs who are not afraid to kill them or abandon them at border crossings).

In past investigations, we have described how much migrants from other countries who go to Europe in the hope of a better life have to go through.

We wrote how Afghans sell all their property to pay criminals. How organized crime groups transport Afghans in refrigerator for cattle carcasses, how they beat Afghans and, give children alcohol and throw them in the forest.

We also talked about how illegals risk their lives by crossing rivers in overcrowded inflatable boats and car tires. These migrants come from Afghanistan, Syria and Africa. In subsequent instalments, we shall capture the horrible atrocities some Africans from Ghana, Nigeria, Eritrea and other citizens from the horn of Africa endure at the hands of human traffickers.

However, it should be clarified that these schemes are more relevant to poor illegals. Instead, those who have more than twelve thousand dollars can afford an elite and less risky trip to Europe. With the help of other people's passports.

(illustrative photo)

Of course, representatives of foreign government agencies, employees of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, pickpockets in Ukraine and abroad are involved in the case.

Bassam Rifai, along with his accomplices, smuggled illegals to the Netherlands. It cost 10 thousand dollars.

Syrians, as tourists, came from Damascus to Moscow, and then they were illegally transported to Ukraine. After that, their way lay to Kyiv and then to Lviv.

Basam Rafai himself mostly coordinated the work from the capital of Ukraine. Instead, in Lviv, illegals "worked" with his accomplice, Hussein.

At a time when Latvians Rosenbahs Vladimirs and Franskevics Andris were producing new documents, stolen passports were forged in the names of Syrians. Having stable acquaintances with employees of the migration service, the organizers of the channel forged passports of foreigners. The third page with the data of Rosenbahs Vladimirs and Franskevics Andris was completely deleted in the documents. Instead, data and photos of Syrians were placed there.

However, at the Lviv airport, the Syrians aroused suspicion because they wanted to board the Lviv-Vienna flight. They could not explain why they, as Latvians, on their way to Vienna and then to the Netherlands, flew to Europe via Lviv.


After an in-depth inspection of documents, employees of the Lviv department of the Security Service of Ukraine found a forgery.

Meanwhile, Bassama Rifai organized another shipment of foreigners to Germany. The illegals were transported from Boryspil to Kharkiv, and then the organizer's accomplice, Boufellah Djamel, was transporting them to the Zhytomyr Region. Later, the group found itself in Lviv. And then - in Truskavets waiting for the appropriate time of transfer to Poland. However, border operatives received information and detained illegals in an apartment in Truskavets.

Another episode in the activities of the Bassama Rifai group was the production of a Ukrainian passport. The group included acquaintances of the Sykhiv District Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in Lviv Oblast.

The illegal Arab was brought to corrupt migration workers.

Bassam Rifai's accomplice presented a passport of a citizen of Ukraine series KS594575 (issued by the Pustomyty Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Lviv region on November 20, 2011) with a photo of an Arab citizen and a certificate of identification number to issue a passport to travel abroad.

Employees of the Sykhiv District Department of the Migration Service of the Lviv Region were not at all surprised by the fact that the Arab, according to the documents, is a resident of the Pustomyty Region, and the photo pasted into his passport looks very suspicious.

So the migrants took pictures of the illegal immigrant. And later he was issued a passport of a citizen of Ukraine to travel abroad.

The illegal immigrant was detained again at the border - because an Arab, a resident of Pustomyty region since 2011, for some reason could not say a few words in Ukrainian. Accordingly, they began to examine his Ukrainian passport more meticulously, and found a photo pasted in someone else's document.

Foresters go into battle

As we wrote at the beginning, not only corrupt migration workers are involved in border schemes. Criminals also involve state forestry workers. Thus, in Transcarpathia, a forester of the Bereznyakivsky forestry of the State Enterprise "Svalyava Forestry" was lit up. He knew forest and mountain trails well. Accordingly, he decided to earn extra money as a guide of groups of illegals.

(illustrative photo)

The forester joined an organized stable criminal group in order to create and operate a stable and permanent channel of illegal migration. Only among the proven participants, the group consist of four people.

It is unknown how many illegals they smuggled across the border, but one case involved thirty-two happiness seekers in Europe. In the other - six. Another group of illegals consisted of ten people.

Illegals were transported through Transcarpathia to Slovakia. Initially, migrants were delivered and hidden in the city of Lviv. The next starting point was the village of Nyzhni Vorota, Zakarpattia region. Illegals were brought here by cars. This is where the stationary police post is located. Therefore, illegals were dropped off 600-700 meters from the post, and then transferred on foot to bypass the police - deep into the Volovets district. Volkswagen Transporter minibuses were already waiting for them here.

Then the path lay through the villages with. Podpolozya - Zhdenievo - Bukovets, Volovets district.

Illegals were transported in comfort. Not in any refrigerators. In a Fiat or Audi. These cars accompanied minibuses with illegals, warning about police posts. And the participants had a car "Lexus GS 300".

Illegals were transported from the territory of Strychava village council, V. Bereznyansky district to the Slovak Republic in the area of 80-86 border signs of the area of responsibility of the department of the border service "Kniagynia".

And how many "threads do not twist" - operatives carried out special operation. And a group of illegals was detained by the Department for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Zakarpattia region.

Four members of the criminal group were convicted in the case.

Taras Zozulinskyy (Ukraine), Paa Kwesi Plange (Ghana)

"This article was developed with the support of the Money Trail Project (”

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