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'Switzerland would fit into Tyumen region in Siberia seven times. But it doesnt't want to. '

Laser physics scientist found after being kidnapped and forced into slave labour in Kazakhstan

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16 March 2017


'I tried to run away several times, five times in all, but I was returned and beaten up.' Picture: Tamara Poluektova

The respected scientist from the Institute of Laser Physics in Novosibirsk was kidnapped while on a trip to Kazakhstan and forced to work as a slave on a remote farm.

His family raised the alarm with police when he went missing, but until now knew nothing about his fate. He finally escaped at the fifth time of trying and can now reveal his appalling story. Obraztsov is traumatised because of his appalling ordeal but is now in touch with his family, and is expected to return to Russia soon.

'I tried to run away several times, five times in all, but I was returned and beaten up,' said the physicist, an expert in silicon, who worked for the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences before retiring in 2013 due to fading eyesight.

Yury Obraztsov

Yury Obraztsov

The respected scientist Yury Obrastsov can now reveal his appalling story. Pictures: Tamara Poluektova

'Now, with God's help, I managed to escape. First, I ran for a long time, then I was in a car, then running again... I have problems with my eyes, I couldn't even read the names in neighbourhood.' 

He was spotted on a bench outside a shopping centre in Almaty, 1,826 kilometres from home, looking disheveled, initially mistaken for a homeless man or an alcoholic.

Alexander Poluektov said: We noticed him on Monday evening. He looked lost and was sitting on the same spot on a bench by a shopping centre where my wife and I work. 

'The shopping centre is located on the square by the railway station. He was sitting in the street all day and sometimes getting in to stay warm. We approached him and asked what happened to him. It turned out that he escaped captivity. 

Laser Institute

He worked in the Institute of Laser Physics in Novosibirsk before retiring in 2013 due to fading eyesight. Picture: Insistute of Laser Physics

'I was a military pilot in the past and looked at him: his ears were broken, his head was covered with scars left by a whip, he was all beaten up... And he was beaten up so badly he couldn't remember who tortured him, and where. Because of the sheer hell he's been through, he has lost his memory.'

He cannot remember why he originally travelled to Kazakhstan, but on this trip he was beaten and taken to a farm where he lived in a barn and worked for his kidnappers. 

Other slaves are still there, he said. 

'There were more people kept in captivity,' he said. 'People like me are still there. It was a farm there. [I was given] bread, water, sometimes there was food left from animals.' 

Poluektov said: 'When he told me all that, it made my hair stand on end. He has been beaten up so badly that he doesn't understand anything... Thank god, it's all in the past... He asked me: 'What year is this?' I was shocked... All this time he lived at a barn and worked for his kidnappers. 



He was spotted on a bench outside a shopping centre in Almaty, 1,826 kilometres from home. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Vestnik Kavkaza

'He has no watch, no calendar. They even broke his glasses and he, half-blind, lived like that all these three years. Thank God, he still remembers his name and date of birth. He also remembers his address in Novosibirsk and the family name of his former boss. 

'We found his phone, called him and asked if he had some Obraztsov working for him. He said: 'Of course!' Then we talked to the police, Russian consulate, and posted in Facebook.... Today we found Yury's brother.'

They spoke and the brother vouched for his missing sibling. 'He could tell him by his voice, he's very happy his brother is alive.'

Poluektov's wife Tamara thanked Facebook users for helping to find the lost man's family. 'Now there isn't too much left to do: getting a temporary passport replacement in the Russian consulate and buying tickets,' she said.

Tamara and Alexander Poluektov

Tamara and Alexander Poluektov. Picture: The Siberian Times

Valentin Kolyasev, counsellor at Russia's General Consulate in Almaty, said: 'Now Obraztsov is safe. We are working on putting him in an Orthodox shelter.'

Paperwork was being sent to confirm his identity, so that temporary travel documents can be issued, he said. 

'He had been beaten up a lot,' he said. 'It is difficult to talk to him, he is thinking slowly. He has some gaps in his memory. It is nearly impossible to understand what happened, who kidnapped him and how.' 

Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a a pre-investigation check on the forced labour claims, and intends to interview the man when he returns to the flat he shares with his brother in Akademgorodok, Novosibirsk.

Comments (2)

I am so glad he finally escaped! My heartfelt prayers, go out to this man and his family, for all his suffering he has gone through, as well as his family's, for wondering what had happened to him, for all this time. I hope and pray the other people who are kept as slaves can be rescued as well. Please don't leave them behind to continue suffering. They need release too. And i hope and pray that Yury can continue to heal in mind, body, and spirit. And that his life will continue to keep getting better each day. He's had enough of suffering.
Becky , Harriman, TN. USA
22/03/2017 12:29
The Russians should hunt down the guilty, and erase them from this earth.
josh, USA
18/03/2017 14:03

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