1,200 Vietnamese detained in Russia sweatshop raid

Russian police officers stand guard at the entrance to the Okhotny Ryad station, June 5, 2013.

MOSCOW - Russian police have arrested 1,200 Vietnamese people in a sweatshop raid in northeastern Moscow where the illegal immigrants were living in squalid conditions.

"The workers lived in insanitary conditions with their families including pregnant women and unweaned babies," said police after the operation on Wednesday.

Police said they also found a woman in critical condition with knife wounds who had not been given proper medical care.

The workers were sewing clothes with fake designer labels, and TV Centre television showed the migrants sleeping on improvised wooden bunks.

In an unusual move, the emergency ministry set up a tent camp on Thursday to house the migrants, with army-style field kitchens serving buckwheat porridge as well as packed lunches, water and biscuits, a spokeswoman told the ITAR-TASS news agency.

Russian police periodically raid underground operations in which migrants from Vietnam and Central Asia live in appalling conditions and are exploited by employers, but police themselves are notorious for extorting bribes from such migrants.

The underground factory was run by a group of nationals of Iraq, Syria, Azerbaijan and Vietnam, some of whom had Russian citizenship, police said.

Investigators have launched criminal action against eight suspected of setting up a criminal gang and organising illegal migration, while the illegal migrants face deportation.

The raid came as Moscow police carried out a largescale operation swooping on illegal migrant workers at several markets.

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