CEN/Tamara Poluektova

Top Scientist Kept As Slave By Kazakh Kidnappers

A leading research scientist who mysteriously disappeared three years ago has been rescued and has told how he was kept as slave labour on a farm in Kazakhstan.


Russia laser expert Yury Obraztsov, 54, was reportedly abducted during a visit to the state.


He reportedly told rescuers how he was brutally beaten every day and locked in a barn except when he was carrying out back-breaking farm work.


Obraztsov says he was whipped and starved on the isolated farm, eating left over animal feed and scraps.


He was saved, reports local media, after he managed to break out of his barn and fled to the Kazakh capital Almaty.


The scientist said: "I tried to run away several times, five times in all, but I was returned and beaten up."


He added: "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.


"There were more people kept in captivity. People like me are still there.


"It was a farm there. [I was given] bread, water, sometimes there was food left from animals."


The scientist was rescued by passersby after he set up home on a bench in the Kazakh capital.


He was almost unrecognisable from his former life as a respected scientist at the Institute of Laser Physics in Novosibirsk.


Good Samaritan Alexander Poluektov said: "He looked lost and was sitting in the same spot on a bench by a shopping centre where my wife and I work.


"He was sitting in the street all day and sometimes getting in to stay warm. We approached him and asked what happened to 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."


But the scientist, it is reported, remembered enough of his old life for his rescuers to track down and contact his brother in Akademgorodok, Novosibirsk, Russia.


Using Russian diplomatic officials, police and Facebook, Poluektov pieced together the scientist's past and he is now waiting to return home.


He explained: "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 in a barn and worked for his kidnappers.


"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 number, called him and asked if an Obraztsov had worked for him. He said: 'Of course!'


"Then we talked to the police, the Russian consulate, and posted on Facebook. Today we found Yury's brother."


Russian diplomat Valentin Kolyasev apparently confirmed the scientist's extraordinary story.


The envoy from Russia's General Consulate in Almaty said: "Now Obraztsov is safe. We are working on putting him in an Orthodox shelter."


He added: "He had been beaten up a lot. 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."


Now Russian police are set to investigate the bizarre kidnapping.


Siberia's Investigative Committee has opened a pre-investigation check on the forced labour claims, and intends to interview Obraztsov when he returns Russia.