Olga Ceaglei, Center for Investigative Journalism Andrei Aştefănesei, Ziarul de Iaşi comentarii | 3661 views
After the trafficker was arrested, the victim took over the “business” and the pedophile network continues operating, with a new leader
In March of this year, the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office announced that they had liquidated a network of child traffickers and pedophiles, the heads of the grouping having been arrested. Under the excuse of organizing tourist trips through Moldova, including the Transnistrian region, and also to Ukraine in Odessa, the network in fact offered juvenile boys for sexual relations to foreign clients. In less than a month from the arrests, we found out that the network continued operating. The “business” had been taken over by one of the former victims who, in order to reestablish the connections with the clients, lowered the prices on the services provided. Divided into two, the network freely operates in Chişinău and Tiraspol. A journalist from Chişinău and one from Iaşi managed to rent a fifteen-year boy for only 55 euros for one night. The discussions about “renting the boy” were filmed with a hidden camera.
“I have a boy. He can come right now. He is 15 years old. He came with me to clients from Norway, Great Britain, Scotland, and everything went smoothly. He is active. A handsome boy. We have been working with him for a year already,” the trafficker describes his “article of trade” in poor Romanian. Yet, before bringing the child to me, he makes sure that all the money goes into his pocket. “There is one more thing. When it comes to paying, you give the money to me, I will pay him. He should not see any money from you. Do you know how it works? I am paying him. Not you!” Misha warns me, before bringing the boy.
I found Misha on www.mail.ru. I created a fake account and contacted Misha from Romania, telling him I had to come to the Republic of Moldova. The Internet negotiation was short: 40 euros for Misha and 15 euros for the boy Misha would bring me. We agreed that I call Misha from Chisinau, on 24 June, and we meet.
24 June 2011, 7:30 PM. At an Expensive Terrace in the Center of Chisinau
I arrived 15 minutes earlier just to fix my hidden camera. Then Misha came. He told me that he had for me a 15-year-old boy, Dima, and a 17-year-old boy, Slava. Still, he insisted on my taking Dima. “You'd better go with Dima,” he advised me. “I see that you'd better do with Dima”.
He assured me that his part of the network had never had any problems and that the Police had never done anything to him. Secretly, Dima tried to warn me about Misha's “problems” with the law, but Misha meddled in: “I don't have any problems. There were some problems with an Italian citizen, Andrea Pasquini, he was with kids of 11-14 years old. He went to Serpeni, and told the local mayor he was sponsoring a football team and was selecting Moldovan boys. He brought two boys to Chisinau and the Police found out and took him. He is under arrest now. And I know that he has two more businesses with kids in Italy. ”
Directors and Government Officers on the List of Foreign Clients
Relaxed, he started telling me about his clients. “I had a client from Rumania, Dan. He is an American citizen but stays in Bucharest. He has some business there. In August, a British citizen has to come, he is the head of a rails producing factory. There is another one, the US secretary of finance. I had another client who was the EU secretary of finance, Nick Georgiadis.”
He was quickly and easily jumping from one topic to another. I asked him how old he was. “I'll soon be 18, but I have the mind of a 25-27-year-old. I have many boys, about 30–40. I will now bring you the best, for the best clients,” he assures me.
I tell him it is about time to see the boy. He insists though on bringing Dima himself, by taxi. “If they see the boy is young, they don't take him,” Misha explains his leaving. He asks 100 lei from me for the taxi and disappears on the alley. He brings Dima to me in less than 30 minutes.
Restaurant Dinner and 15 Euros, the Price for Innocence
Dima appears to be 15, as Misha promised. Neatly dressed, in a white T-shirt, walking quickly, as if eager to meet me. He has the air of a good child, a schoolboy going to school with his homework half done, obviously afraid of something. Sitting on the armchair, in a shy manner, he is keeping his hands under the table. His blue eyes don’t look courageous either. With his eyes cast down, shy, Dima throws a look at Misha from time to time.
Any person that feels repugnance for the infantile pornography world and the sexual abuse of children would be more than indignant when seeing the angelic look of the 15-year-old teenager. For just 15 euros, a child seems to be ready to satisfy the desires of sexual perverts, giving up his own principles and values. In front of a client, Dima becomes merchandise in the shop window, sold for a ridiculous price.
I can hardly make him talk. “I go to school. I’m in the ninth grade. I get only A's”, Dima tells me. I tell him to cheer up and Misha promptly interferes, on an authoritarian tone, in Russian: “Take it easy, Dima! You are exaggerating with your modesty! Cheer up!”
I make up an excuse to leave but not before being assured that Dima knows he has to provide sexual services for money. He confirms that by nodding. At his age, Dima does not have enough wisdom. Easy to manipulate, lured by the money mirage, the boy does not realize that he can destroy his own life.
Pedophiles Goldmine: odnoklassniki.ru and mail.ru
On the most popular social networks on the former USSR territory, www.odnoklassniki.ru and www.mail.ru, Moldovan boys aged between 11 and 17 have in their friends lists men of 30-35 years old from Germany, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Russia and even Thailand, who are being investigated by Chisinau Police for trafficking in children, sexual abuse, infantile pornography or sex tourism. Some pictures from these sites show children with men in private rooms, consuming alcoholic drinks.
Contacting the Network
We had to contact Oleg Siviţki under cover to prove that a network of pedophiles and traffickers of children is active in the Republic of Moldova. However, the start of the journalistic investigation overlapped with the Police investigation and the last year arrests seemed to have annihilated the network as we hadn't received any answer to the e-mail sent to the address from the website: email@example.com (‘o’ from Oleg, ‘s’ from Siviţki and ‘nor’ from Norway), while the phone number was inactive.
We went further, starting from the premise that such “business” never dies but is taken over by someone else. We continued our investigation and this is how we found Misha.
After the Arrests – A Reorganized Network
Some sources close to the network confirmed that the network might have split into two after the arrests: one in Chisinau and the other one in Tiraspol. The Tiraspol network allegedly was taken over by Oleg Siviţki's boyfriend, Roman Motov, 22, a Russian citizen with Transnistrian identity documents. The Chisinau network was said to have been taken over by Misha, one of the former victims. Misha confessed that he had been in this business for two years, looking for clients for the boys he recruited, at the beginning supervised by Oleg but after the latter’s arrest, working on his own.
The Norwegian, the Italian and the Greek
The foreign citizens arrested last year by the Chisinau Police, suspected of trafficking in children or infantile pornography are Oleg Siviţki, citizen of the Russian Federation and Norway, and Andrea Pasquini, Italian citizen, prosecuted in his home country, too, for similar crimes committed in 2007 and 2009.
The individuals suspected allegedly included the Greek Nick Georgiadis who was taken to Police headquarters for interrogation but was released shortly after that because of his diplomatic immunity. Nick Georgiadis, former member of the Greek Parliament, came to Moldova last year as adviser to the Minister of Economy within the EU Mission for Consultancy in Public Policies, a project financed by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP Moldova.
Nick Georgiadis left the Republic of Moldova and in the meantime his diplomatic immunity has expired, so now the General Prosecutor's Office has green light for continuing the investigations. Elena Cazacov, the prosecutor in charge of this case in the Department for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings confirmed there is a criminal case filed against the Greek citizen. “We cannot provide any information related to this case in order not to compromise the investigations,” Elena Cazacov says.
Two weeks after we contacted Misha to 'rent' a child, we had another meeting with him, telling him we were journalists. Misha confessed then that he had been recruited by Oleg Siviţki on mail.ru at the beginning of June 2010. After numerous Internet messages, lead by the desire to make money easily, he accepted to provide certain sexual services to foreign clients.
Among his first clients from Oleg Siviţki allegedly was the Greek Nick Georgiadis (see the VIDEO with Misha's confession). According to Misha's words, the Greek was very discreet. “At the beginning of June last year I met Oleg, after we had some discussions over the Internet. He told me a client from Greece had to come, Nick Georgiadis, and he could introduce me to him. We met him the next day. They two had a quick discussion and then we parted. When we came home to Oleg, he told me that the Greek wanted to see me at 10 PM,” Misha confesses. According to Misha, on that June night, Nick Georgiadis sexually abused him. “I came to give him a massage but he abused me while I was sleeping.” For a night with Misha, who was 16 at that time, the high European adviser allegedly gave Oleg 50 euros. Misha supposedly received 400 Moldovan lei (around 25 euros).
Our efforts to find out the contact information of Nick Georgiadis in order to establish his position did not succeed. We managed to find just an e-mail address, which turned out to be invalid. Both the representatives of the Ministry of the Economy, where he had been working for several years, and the UNDP that hired him in the above-mentioned project claim that they do not have any his updated contact information.
According to Misha, Nick Georgiadis contacted Oleg Siviţki via the contact data from www.gaymoldova.livejournal.com.
Sex Tourism on gaymoldova.livejournal.com
To attract foreign clients to the Republic of Moldova, Oleg Siviţki created a webpage on the Internet, more exactly, a blog in English: www.gaymoldova.livejournal.com, that could be easily found by a simple Google search, using the key words “gay tour Moldova” or “gay escort Moldova”. Additionally, the site was promoted on Facebook and on gay sites.
This blog was aimed at gay pedophiles and was openly promoting sex tourism in the Republic of Moldova. It was accessible until early April 2011, when it was closed by authorities.
Gay Escort Services for Just 100 Euros
This blog was created as a mini-tour guide because it offered all the information necessary to reach Moldova, including entertainment possibilities as well as “tourist packages” with a price list for gay tourist tours, with destinations like Chisinau, Tiraspol and Odessa, for 10, 7 and 4 days, respectively. The prices for the tourist packages ranged from 285 and 800 euros, depending on the duration of the tour.
In fact, this website offered escort services and access to the pictures of over 40 boys who could escort foreigners throughout their so-called tourist tour for just 100 euros, regardless of the duration of the tour. Of all this money, the victim received 150-500 lei.
There was a note that there were other boys, too, whose pictures were not on the website. Close sources confirmed that there might be around 150 victims.
Sexual Fantasies Cost
The site also made allusions to certain sexual preferences of the clients. For instance, it said: “For fans of soldier’s sex there is an incredible opportunity to visit military places”. One of the pictures showed tree boys dressed in the military uniform of the Institute of Home Affairs of the self-proclaimed Transnistrian republic.
Foreigners Choose To Spend New Year's Eve with Moldovan Children
Among the pictures posted on odnoklassniki.ru by the German Rene we found a picture from this New Year's Eve, with Rene from Germany and Nutapong Somjit from Thailand, surrounded by several Moldovan boys. We found the boys’ pictures also on www.gaymoldova.livejournal.com. Our sources from among investigators who asked to remain anonymous confirmed that the Chisinau Police has clear evidence that Rene, Dan Petersen and Nutapong Somjit were among the clients of Oleg Siviţki.
When Misha found out that we were journalists and not potential clients, he remembered he was a victim. “Oleg threatened me that if I didn’t do what he told me to, my family would find out what I had done because he knows where I live,” Misha tells us. He says he started “doing business” after Oleg was arrested to help his family pay their utilities arrears and promised to leave this business as soon as he pays off all the debts.
Misha told us he would earn a lot from 'renting out' children to foreign pedophiles. “In a good month I can earn up to 600 euros,” he adds, thinking of the clients from the USA and Great Britain to come to Chisinau in August.
Misha's case, who from a victim turned into a trafficker, is known by psychologists and defined as the “Stockholm syndrome”. This syndrome describes the behavior of the victim who starts feeling compassion and identifies himself with the abuser. This syndrome, psychologists say, appears under very strong emotional stress and is developed by abused children.
Very often, the child who was abused and did not undergo rehabilitation starts identifying himself with the abuser or trafficker. He takes over from him their manner of speaking, being, perceiving, and of doing exactly the same things the one who abused him did. He comes to see a role model in the abuser. He cannot do anything else but offer services and supervise others providing such services. He cannot even imagine that he could do something else. Identifying himself with the trafficker, the victim wants to be exactly like him: courageous, strong and skillful, to make money and be a prosperous person in the society,” the psychologist Lidia Gorceac explains.
Children for Sex Rent on Internet Tenders
Only 9 victims, 7 of which are minors, have been identified and benefitted from assistance. “Two court hearings have taken place, during which the children and the witnesses were heard. There is sufficient evidence to prove guilty those who are in the prisoner's box. Two more hearings are coming up where we will hear the accused, after which we believe a sentence will be issued,” specifies Natalia Bairam, the lawyer who defends the interests of the victim in this case. On the other hand, the lawyers of the accused plead for their innocence and do not want to give any details. “The hearings take place behind closed doors and so, I cannot provide you with any details,” says Ion Gherţescu, the lawyer of one of the accused. These people risk a sentence from 15 to 20 years of imprisonment.
The other victims, who couldn't be identified yet, continue to provide paid services to foreign citizens coming to the Republic of Moldova for this purpose. Most of the boys whose pictures we found on gaymoldova.livejournal.com seem to be from Transnistria. Besides their names below every picture, their home town is also indicated, which in many cases is Tiraspol.
“Most of the victims are from the Transnistrian region. We continue our investigations on this case to identify the individuals but there is a problem here because the law-enforcement bodies do not have access to that region. This is why it is very difficult to identify other victims or members of the Transnistrian network. The investigations continue. So far, a total number of 8 individuals suspected of trafficking in children have been identified, 4 of whom have been arrested. Other 4 individuals are under open investigation,” says Iurie Ursan, Deputy Head of the Centre for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings within the Ministry of Interior.
To Ukraine, Illegally Through Transnistria
Children rented for sexual relations are also delivered to clients who come to Odessa from Ukraine. Minors are taken from the country trough the Transnistrian region, sometimes illegally or with false documents. Odessa is included in the list of touristic destinations for foreign pedophiles on www.gaymoldova.livejournal.com.
“We have recently been more in touch with Odessa, because children from Transnistria, but also from Moldova, reach Ukraine illegally, bypassing customs checkpoints. These children are migrants in a difficult situation and we think that many of them were sexually abused, although none of the children we worked with told us about such experience,” says Lidia Gorceac, psychologist from the Centre for Assistance and Rehabilitation of Victims of Human Trafficking.
Every year, unaccompanied juveniles or juveniles in difficult situations in foreign countries are identified by the diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Moldova and are repatriated with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Last year, 66 Moldovan children were repatriated, especially from Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Of them, 28 were girls and 38 – boys. Thirty three children were brought from the Russian Federation, 29 from Ukraine, 2 from Rumania, one from Belgium and one from Italy.
“In 2010, a group of boys was repatriated, most of them from the Transnistrian region, but about one third of them didn't go through the entire rehabilitation program that we carry out in our Center. In spring, some of them went back to their parents in Transnistria, and we do not know where the others are now,” Lidia Gorceag says. The situation of these teenagers can be improved only if they undergo the entire rehabilitation program, which is usually long. For the time being, the state does not provide psychological rehabilitation services to the sexually abused children and those few non-governmental organizations that assist children having had traumatizing experiences do not have the capacity to cover all the children in such situations, Lilia Gorceac claims. Certain is that no NGO keeps track of all the sexually abused children. Most of the times, such children go back to the abusive environment.
Phenomenon Takes Scope
The sex tourism in the Republic of Moldova aimed at the sexual exploitation of children is not a novelty. Lately, nearly each year there have been discovered cases of child sexual abuse by foreign citizens.
We recall here the resonant case of an American citizen Anthony Mark Bianchi, who was arrested in 2007 and two years later sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment in the USA for having sexually abused 10 Moldovan children. His Moldovan accomplice was sentenced in Moldova.
In 2009, the British citizen Deacon David Brian was arrested for similar crimes and sentenced to 7 years and 6 months of imprisonment. Last year, in Chisinau, the heads of an international pedophile network were arrested. Recently, in August 2011, two other Italian citizens were arrested in Balti.
Growing Number of Child Perverted Sexual Abuse Cases
According to the information provided by the Department for Juveniles and Human Rights of the General Prosecutor's Office, there is an increase in the number of cases of sexual abuse of children, especially of perverted sexual abuse.
During 2010, one third of crimes against children had a sexual character. “Unfortunately, we do not know the real number of cases of child sexual abuse because not all the victims report them, being too traumatized and intimidated,” the Head of the Department for Juveniles and Human Rights Iurie Perevoznic says.
The statistics of the Ministry of Interior indicates a double increase in the child trafficking cases. If 43 cases were registered in 2010, the first half of the year 2011 recorded 46 cases of child trafficking. Of them, only half have reached the court.
All the evidence collected during five months of journalistic investigations has transmitted to the Chisinau authorities. The Police and the General Prosecutor's Office have started new investigations on the probable involvement of Moldovan and foreign citizens in child trafficking, sexual abuse, infantile pornography and sex tourism.
This investigation has been produced with the support of the Danish Association of Investigative Journalists.
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