Thailand is a known destination for human trafficking victims. They're often young Burmese seeking physically demanding, unskilled jobs. Instead, a ruthless employer confiscates their passport, confines them to a factory and forces them to toil for little or no pay.
That was the fate of Anatolly Vdevychenko, according to allegations being investigated by Thai police. But Vdevychenko isn't young or Burmese. He's a well-educated 57-year-old, bespectacled Ukrainian engineer.
The Bangkok Post newspaper reports that Vdevychenko alleges an oxygen equipment factory owner held him captive in a small room for about 14 years, seldom paid him and forced him to help run the complex operation in Bangkok's industrial outskirts. The engineer initially accepted the position willingly but was later forced to work for almost nothing, according to the story.
This claim is an odd twist on the typical tale of young Southeast Asians with few options lured into forced labor or sex work. (Like this young man, interviewed by Global Post after escaping slavery on a fishing boat.)
Most human trafficking stories don't involve a well-educated victim who's "crucial" to operating a factory, as the paper reports.
So how did he get out? According to the story, a worker from Burma felt for Vdevychenko and tipped off the engineer's family in the Ukraine.