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Nepal has apprehended a criminal group allegedly involved in smuggling individuals to join the Russian military in Ukraine.
Bhupendra Khatri, the Kathmandu district police chief, informed Reuters that ten suspects were recently arrested following leads. Kharti said, “We are discussing with the government lawyers about the case and will produce them to the court.”
According to Khatri, each individual was illegally charged up to $9,000 and sent to Russia on tourist visas, primarily through the United Arab Emirates, before being coerced into joining the Russian military. He added, “It is a case of human smuggling … organized crime.”
Officials in Nepal believe roughly 150-200 Nepali nationals have been fighting for Russia. Other reports from local sources speaking to multiple news outlets indicate the number is much higher, with citizens signing up weekly for visa admittance.
This arrest follows Nepal’s plea to Russia for the return of its citizens allegedly serving as mercenaries in Ukraine, especially after the reported death of six Nepali citizens in the conflict and the capture of another by Ukrainian forces. Nepal, located between China and India, has demanded compensation from Russia for the families of the deceased Nepali citizens. Unlike the historical arrangement with the British and Indian armies employing Nepali Gurkhas, no such agreement exists with Russia.