Price of Vice. Episode 2: The Seamy Side of Russia’s Sex Industry


Interesting Documentaries


Published on Apr 20, 2022

Today, prostitution is a business without borders. The sex industry reportedly generates revenues equal to those of drug traffickers and arms smugglers. No wonder: prostitution has existed for at least 2,000 years, and some go as far as calling it the oldest profession. These days it is outlawed in most countries, including Russia. To be more precise, prostitution itself is considered a misdemeanour punishable by a petty fine. However, organising a prostitution ring or running a brothel is a criminal offence that carries a jail sentence.

Despite all this, Russia’s sex industry is booming. In the years immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union, prostitution became one of the most visible manifestations of political and economic uncertainty. Thus, over time, turning into a thriving, multifaceted sex industry. In larger cities, sex workers prefer to operate under the roofs of massage parlours, saunas and strip clubs. In smaller towns, you can still see working girls walking the streets or standing along highways. Digitalisation, however, has contributed to the prevalence of online services that allow clients to meet their potential “girlfriends” with just a click of a keypad. Thus, the internet may have made sexual services more readily available but not safer or less morally damaging to all parties involved.

It’s estimated up to four million women and men are involved in prostitution in today’s Russia. And although police carry out raids and special operations aimed at organised gangs, it’s just the tip of the iceberg called the “sex industry”. RT Documentary tries to find out more about various aspects of this ugly social phenomenon, letting the protagonists speak for themselves freely, no matter how unpopular their viewpoints might be.