The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday sentenced Vladimir Chernyshev to seven years in prison for human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution.
Earlier this month, Chernyshev pleaded guilty to human trafficking and prostitution charges as part of a plea deal reached with state prosecutors that saw three counts of rape dropped from the charge sheet.
According to court documents, in 2005 Chernyshev persuaded a young Russian woman to come to Israel, promising her work as a dancer at a Tel Aviv nightclub. When they arrived, Chernyshev informed the woman, identified by the court as Camilla, that she owed him $5,000 for travel expenses and arranging her job.
Chernyshev and his associates forced Camilla to repay the debt by working as a prostitute and violently beat her when she protested.
She was forced to work as a prostitute from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 the following morning seven days a week. She later told police that she had to see up to 15 customers per day.
Later in 2005, Camilla was arrested, and was repatriated back to Russia by Israeli authorities.
Three years later, she filed a complaint against Chernyshev and his associates with Israeli police, but authorities were unable to locate him or any of his associates by then.
Chernyshev was eventually arrested in September 2015 in Tel Aviv after he was identified by police officers who pulled him over for a minor traffic violation.
At the time of his arrest, the court said Chernyshev was living a normal life with wife and children.
The original indictment against Chernyshev said he violently raped Camilla three times during the time he held he held her captive. But those charges were dropped due to the victim’s unwillingness to return to Israel and testify against Chernyshev in court.
With Camilla’s consent, state prosecutors offered Chernyshev a plea deal that would see the three counts of rape removed from the indictment in exchange for admitting to the other charges.
On March 8, the Tel Aviv court indicted Chernyshev for human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, trafficking an individual under aggravated circumstances, unlawful imprisonment, aggravated assault, verbal threats and possession of a deadly weapon. He was further ordered by the court to pay Camilla NIS 80,000 ($22,000) in compensation.
While prostitution itself is legal in Israel, pimping, sex trafficking, and running a brothel are punishable by law.
The government’s first-ever investigation into the sex industry in 2014 revealed that some 12,000 prostitutes tucked away in so-called “discreet apartments” across the country invisibly drive a NIS 1.2 billion ($318 million) per year industry.
A report in the Haaretz newspaper earlier this month said the number of women from the former Soviet Union entering Israel to work in prostitution has risen sharply in recent years due to a visa waiver program.
A Justice Ministry official told the daily that border authorities had denied entry to a record 300 women from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Russia and Georgia suspected of travelling to Israel on a tourist visa to engage in sex work last year. In 2015, the number of women denied entry on similar grounds was 50.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.