[Stop-traffic] News/US: INS accuses 4 strippers for cultural excesses

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: INS accuses 4 strippers for cultural excesses
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Jan 17 2001 - 09:01:00 EST


INS accuses 4 strippers for cultural excesses
VISAS: Russians brought by a Chugiak man were supposed to be tourists,
officials say
By Sheila Toomey
The Anchorage Daily News, January 6, 2001

Four Russian women were taken into custody at the Crazy Horse club Thursday
night after immigration investigators concluded stripping naked in front of
a roomful of men did not add up to a "cultural performance."

The real problem was that the women were getting paid for the stripping but
did not have visas that permitted them to work, said Robert Eddy, director
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service for Alaska.

INS agents cruised by the Crazy Horse, at 16th and Gambell, for a "discreet
visit" after hearing a radio commercial promoting performances by a group
of exotic dancers from Russia, Eddy said.

They discovered the women had only tourist visas, issued for temporary
visits to the United States, he said. INS records indicate they were part
of a group of seven women who entered the country on Dec. 20 through St.
Paul, Minn., on visas issued Dec. 19 in Moscow.

The other three women who were part of the cultural dance group were not
found to be violating their visas and remain free, Eddy said. Two of them
had refused the opportunity to become strippers, he said. The third was not
working Thursday night when the arrests were made.

After preliminary interviews with the women, the INS said they were
apparently recruited from the Moscow area by a Chugiak man to perform
cultural folk dances here. However some of the women arrested appear not to
have any folk dancing background. One is a hairdresser and one a cook, Eddy
said.

Tony Kennard, the man who sponsored the women's travel and acted as their
agent with the Crazy Horse, said Friday that he had not talked to a lawyer
and preferred not to comment on how he came to be associated with the women.

According to the INS, Kennard told them the women arrived in Anchorage late
and missed the folk dancing events they were supposed to participate in.

Kennard, 38, described as an engineer, has not been charged with any crime,
Eddy said.

Attorney Rex Butler, who represents the Crazy Horse, said it is standard
practice in the industry for dancers to be hired through an agent who
negotiates a contract and gets paid a flat fee for short engagements.
Butler said he believed the Russian women were scheduled to perform for 30
days.

The women and Kennard both told INS they turned all their tips over to him,
to repay him for about $13,000 he spent bringing them to the United States,
Eddy said.

Butler said the women appear to have the proper paperwork to legally dance
here. The club has employed other foreign women and had similar paperwork
checked and approved by INS. As a result, the Crazy Horse expects the women
to be back at work after an INS hearing on Monday, he said.

Eddy agreed that the Crazy Horse was very cooperative and appeared to have
done what employers are supposed to do when hiring foreigners. However,
there seems little chance the women will be back titillating customers in
the near future. They were kept in a hotel Thursday night and flown to a
Seattle INS detention center Friday, Eddy said.

The women -- Olessia Kalachnikova, 20; Svetlana Koutcherova, 27; Anastassia
Goudimova, 30; and Olga Mikhaylovna, 28 -- will be interviewed there by
Russian-speaking agents, he said.

INS investigators here and in Moscow are concerned that the dancers may
have been victims of organized trafficking in women. "At this point, our
greater interest is in possible violations of other federal statutes," Eddy
said, things like "alien smuggling, peonage and involuntary servitude."

Attorney Robin Bronen, an immigration specialist with Catholic Social
Services, said a Seattle agency that works with immigrants will represent
the women during additional INS interviews tentatively set for Monday. If
the women were victims of trafficking for sex, they could be eligible to
remain in the United States legally, she said.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator
http://www.stop-traffic.org

Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at
<<morhant@igc.org>>.

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