Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Flesh Trade Thrives on the Border

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Far East -- A translator from China, calling himself Misha, agreed to talk about his "tour guide" business in Blagoveshchensk, which often boils down to procuring prostitutes for his Chinese clients.

This night, Misha was escorting three wealthy Chinese businessmen. He presided over the negotiations after a night clerk in one of Blagoveshchensk's best hotels ushered in a series of call girls.

At first, 10 arrived. Then five more, then three others, all summoned by telephone from sex agencies. Most had bleached hair and were a head taller than their middle-aged patrons. After looking at all 18 women, the businessmen selected three and took them into the hotel's sauna.

After they left, Misha talked about how much he liked Russia. "If I had a chance, I'd buy land here and build a house ... for my grandchildren, at least," he said.

"The Chinese are here to stay," he continued. "Russians need us. Someone must grow vegetables for them, someone must sell them clothes and things, someone must build them houses. Russians have to admit they can't do without us. They don't know what to do with their land. We can all live here together and profit from each other."