SHANGHAI, August 12 (Itar-Tass) —— The Russian citizens blocked at a Russian-owned plant in Hangzhou, East China, have broken free, a source at the Russian consulate general in Shanghai told Itar-Tass.
Vice-consul Yevgeny Gryaznov, Advento General Director Vitaly Rudykh and translator Olga Borisevich have reached the diplomatic car and left the plant premises. They are driving to Shanghai, he said.
“A huge crowd tried to stop us; people were throwing themselves at the car,” Borisevich told Itar-Tass. The woman could hardly talk. She said that no one was hurt but did not rule out they were being followed.
The source said that the consulate general was taking measures to ensure the security of the Russians.
The company the Russians represent started bankruptcy proceedings. Once the bankruptcy was announced, the Russians were seized by plant workers and Chinese business partners and the payment of debts was demanded. The captives were prohibited to leave the plant under the threat of violence.
Borisevich told Itar-Tass by phone back then that the local police had been protecting them from aggressive actions of the Chinese but refused to assist their release. The police offered the Russians to settle the commercial dispute.
“Our plant had been making shower cabins for 30 months but the Russian owner started bankruptcy proceedings because of financial problems. We consulted lawyers and they told us there were no violations on our part,” she said. The plant’s debt to workers is two-month salaries or 250,000 yuan ($38,500). There is also a debt of three million yuan ($461,000) to Chinese suppliers.
The consulate general said they had demanded that China must protect the Russian citizens from illegal actions. “We applied to the public security department of the province. Obviously, the civil dispute has developed into a criminal offense on the part of the Chinese citizens,” the consulate said.
“The situation is very difficult. We made repeated appeals to the authorities of the Chinese province and municipality and the police for five days but there was no adequate reaction. This is an economic dispute, and no hostages must be taken to resolve it,” consul general Andrei Smorodin told Itar-Tass.
The consulate representative who came to the plant on Friday was also attacked.
“The Russian vice-consul was captured and experienced provocations. People threw water and a plant pot at him. A woman fell on the ground in front of the vice-consul claiming that she was hit. All that was videotaped,” he said.
In the words of Borisevich, the company paid salary debts to the workers but did not pay the suppliers.