Russian State Against Children

Over the past few days, on the eve of Children’s Day, we have published information about various tragedies that concern minors and the responsibility for which lies with the Russian state. The facts that we published are well known, they have been confirmed by both international organizations and, in some cases, by official bodies in Russia itself.

Of course, these stories are very different in scale of the tragedy (from rough detentions during rallies to painful deaths), and the specific role of the authorities in the incident (from direct orders to raid on the school to negligence). But another feature is important: each story leads us to decisions which were taken by specific individuals in the government of Russia or by representatives of the executive power at different levels. The analysis of each tragedy shows us that it is a consequence of neglect of human rights, corruption, usurpation of power, dependence of the judicial system.

For the state machine, there is no difference whether to conduct a “special operations” to “liberate” in Russia (Beslan, Nord Ost) or abroad (Ukraine, Syria).

The mothers of Beslan and the victims of Nord-Ost still cannot see truth and justice prevail, and directly name the authorities (not terrorists!) as the murderers of their loved ones. After many years, it has become more obvious that the Russian authorities need quick victories and for them they are ready to sacrifice the lives of people regardless of their number and age.

Support for the dictatorship in Syria is not just a political standpoint, but also Russia’s participation in the full-scale Asad’s war against his own people, including using prohibited chemical weapons – it is obvious that without Russia’s participation, the number of civilian casualties could be much less. This immoral policy is aimed at increasing Russia’s role in the world processes, forcing other countries to negotiate with it. At the same time, the Russian propaganda manages to hide or whitewash the most terrible facts about the war, and show Russia’s participation in it as a noble mission or an opportunity to exercise for the army. In the late 2015, during a press conference, Putin stated: “In fact, we can exercise there for a long time without significant damage to our budget”

A similar situation unfolds in Ukraine, where the Russian-backed separatists, as well as the representatives of the Russian armed forces themselves, not only do not try to avoid civilian casualties, but often intentionally direct attacks against them (for example, shooting at the enemy from the residential area), then to use the outcome for the propaganda purposes. It must be said, however, that even the victims of the Ukrainian side’s actions are to a great extent the political responsibility of Russia, which unleashed and supported this conflict.

 

It is important to understand that very many stories in which children become victims of the Russian state are not wars outside of it or even terrorist attacks, but the consequences of negligence of officials responsible for the normal and safe everyday life of the Russian citizens.

 

Accidents which may happen anywhere, have long been systemic in Russia, so the authority’s responsibility for each such tragedy and its total helplessness in dealing with the consequences has long become a commonplace truth.

Corruption schemes lead to the fact that dozens of children become victims of such “accidents”: it is precisely the corruption schemes, including the system of tenders and state procurements conducted to “saw” – steal – budget funds, lead to a non-functioning alarm systems, violation of fire safety rules in the buildings, ineffective work of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and its employees.

The tragedy in Kemerovo was the result of many years of corrupt practices of the controlling bodies and the business forced to respect not the fire safety rules, but the mutually beneficial codes of the underworld.

The tragedy in Karelia was caused by the gradual destruction of the system of summer children’s camps. The attempt to transfer the system of children’s recreation to exclusively commercial principles resulted in cutting down expenses on everything, especially the health and safety of children. After all, in case of the same camp on Syamozero, before the tragedy, information about violations typical for such institutions was received: children ate food with exceeded expiry limits, camps were overcrowded, sanitary norms were violated, and volunteers working instead of qualified personnel. However, the supervisory authorities pretended they were unaware, moreover – the camp was chosen by the social welfare as a resting place for children from orphanages and disadvantaged families. The death of children during the storm is not only the fault of the nature and leadership of the camp, but also authorities, for whom cutting down expenses (or rather, increasing own income) is more important than children’s safety.

The ecological disaster in Volokolamsk shows that even the mass poisonings of children inside the country and the protests following it do not convince the authorities to listen what the people say.

Particularly painful due to its cynicism is the so-called “Dima Yakovlev’s Act” which banned the adoption of Russian children to citizens of the US and many European countries. Under the cynical pretext of protecting children from the horrors awaiting them abroad, the act deprived most orphans with disabilities of the right to a decent future. Because of the deputies who voted for this terrible Act, and personally President Putin, wards of orphanages with disabilities will be “sentenced for life” in four walls of the state institutions: because Russia is not able to provide them with the necessary treatment and an adequate standard of living (also due to the fact that the state financial support to adoptive families is miserable). Allowing for child adoption by the families of foreigners who are willing to give children a family, contradicts to the state policy, and it turns out that Russian orphans are hostages in the political game. The real motivation for the introduction of this law was the desire to avenge the US “Magnitsky’s Act” which imposed personal sanctions on those involved in the death of the lawyer in the remand prison.

 

And, of course, it is not surprising that, providing such attitude of authorities towards children in general, the police, without any hesitation, not only detains, but also beats teenagers, as it happened recently towards those participating in protest rallies or the ones just passing nearby. Absolutely ineffective activity of the “siloviki” in the face of the real danger (terrorist attacks, hostage-taking, operations to release them) cannot be compared to the unprecedented cruelty in fighting against unarmed people who were on the street at the site of the protest rallies.

 

The “civilized nature” of the country can be judged by its attitude towards children, the state’s willingness to create good conditions for the development of children as an investment in the future. Russia treats its citizens as an expendable material useful for elections or wars – and this fully applies to children.

The Putin’s system of the hierarchy of power and the head of the country personally are responsible for those victims whom we recently described. All this – strokes to the portrait of a happy childhood in Russia in the early 21st century.

 

Tatiana Kovaleva

Vladimir Kozlov

Valentina Chubarova

For Free Russia Association