Vienna, September 12 – Ninety percent of the graduates of Russia’s network of state orphanages land in jail within five years of leaving these institutions, a tragic pattern that a senior Russian Orthodox cleric says should lead the government to put those responsible “up against the wall.”
Yesterday, during question time in the Russian Duma, Education Minister Andrei Fursenko, Health and Social Security Minister Mikhail Zurabov and the First Deputy Head of the Interior Ministry Aleksandr Chekalin jointly presented a report on how the government is dealing with orphans and other unsupervised children.
Fursenko stressed that over the next three years, the government plans to close another 400 children’s homes, bringing the total number down to 1370. He said such cuts were possible because the number of orphans was now falling, although he admitted the declines were small and that 80 percent of all “orphans” have living parents.
Zurabov said the number of adoptions is rising and that Russians now adopt more than twice as many Russian children as foreigners do, a shift from the 1990s. And Chekalin used his time to discuss crimes committed against children rather than crimes committed by them.
But today, in an interview carried on the Russkaya liniya portal which has close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Dmitriy Smirnov, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for work with the military and security agencies, focused on the failure of children’s homes to adequately socialize their charges.
He said that at present “our state system of childrens’ homes is preparing criminals,” with 40 percent of their graduates landing in jail within one year of finishing and another 50 percent doing so before the fifth anniversary of their departure from these institutions.
Archpriest Dmitriy, who has a longstanding reputation for speaking his mind speeches and articles directed at Russians in uniform, said that “for such work, [those responsible] should be put up against the wall” and presumably shot (http://www.rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=173201).
Obviously, he continued, the orphanages are not the only ones responsible for this unfortunate trend. The mass media is full of stories celebrating crime and violence and making fun of those who live by the rules. And Soviet-era attacks on religion have left the Russian people without the moral guidance they need.
But the archpriest’s reference to the Soviet period in this context may cause some of his readers to recall the role that orphanages played at that time. As a result of war, collectivization, and industrialization, a far higher percentage of Russians ended in state orphanages than has been the case elsewhere.
And these children -- called “detdomtsy” [“children’s home people”} played a very special role: while some may have landed in jail even then, a far greater percentage became Communist Party officials – often as senior as union republic first secretary – militia men, or even KGB officers.