KATHMANDU - Police in Nepal have detained 10 people they say charged unemployed youths huge amounts of money for travel visas, then sent them for illegal recruitment into the Russian army, an official said on Wednesday.
Nepal asked Moscow this week not to recruit its citizens into the Russian army, and to send any Nepali soldier in its armed forces back to the Himalayan nation after six of its citizens serving in Russia's military were killed.
Kathmandu District Police chief Bhupendra Khatri said 10 people were in police custody after being detained over the past few days following tip-offs.
"We are discussing with the government lawyers about the case and will produce them to the court," Khatri told Reuters. He did not say when they would appear in court. Khatri said the detainees illegally charged each person up to $9,000 and sent them to Russia on "visit (tourist) visas", mainly through the UAE.
They were then recruited into the Russian army. "It is a case of human smuggling ... organised crime," Khatri added.
The detainees could not be immediately reached for comment.
Nepal, which lies between China and India, has asked Russia, which invaded neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022 and has been engaged in a war since, to compensate the families of the Nepali citizens killed.
Nepali soldiers, called Gurkhas, are known for their bravery and fighting skills and have been serving the British and Indian armies since the independence of India in 1947 under an agreement between the three countries. There is no such agreement with Russia.
Millions of Nepalis are employed in civilian work - mainly as labourers in industries and construction sites - in South Korea, Malaysia and the Middle East.