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Ombudsman's Plans for Orphans Under Fire

Published: January 18, 2013 (Issue # 1742)


MOSCOW Experts sharply criticized childrens ombudsman Pavel Astakhovs proposals Thursday to create an orphan agency and inspect orphanages in Moscow, measures that appeared aimed at addressing concern over orphans welfare in Russia after the country renounced U.S. adoptions.

An agency with that name, explicitly for orphans, thats the end of the world, said Boris Altschuler, head of the childrens rights watchdog Rights of the Child. He said a bureaucracy predicated on the existence of orphans would have little incentive to reduce their numbers.

Astakhov told Izvestia that he supported the creation of an orphan agency, adding at a news conference that the current system involves 19 agencies and is ineffective, Interfax reported.

But while more than 80 percent of Russias 650,000 orphans have living parents, the country would be better off creating an agency to help children stay in their families or find adoptive families, Altschuler said.

The childrens ombudsman also said a thorough inspection of Moscow orphanages in April will see psychologists dispatched to meet children.

This is the equivalent of visiting a prisoner in solitary confinement and asking him How do you like it here? said Alexander Gezalov, head of the Successful Orphans project.

If the government were serious about improving the lives of orphans, it would concentrate on reducing the number living in orphanages, which stunt childrens development and stigmatize them, he said.

About 371,700 children are growing up in state institutions, according to figures that the Russian government presented to the United Nations in 2011.

Addressing confusion about how the adoption ban will be carried out, Astakhov said orphans whose adoption has already been court-sanctioned a total of 40 to 50 children will be allowed to join their new families in the United States.

The other 100 or so pending adoptions will not go forward, he said, a move that struck Gezalov as heartless, given that some orphans have already met their prospective parents.

Astakhov is saying that even if the children have met their adoptive parents, the kids are so stupid that they dont understand whom theyve met, he said.

Orphans are leaving with their American adoptive families on a nearly daily basis, Astakhov said, but according to a report by the BBC Russian Service, not a single Russian orphan has left for the United States in 2013 due to egregious bureaucratic obstruction.

The Kremlin has faced protests and international condemnation over its decision to end U.S. adoptions as of Jan. 1. The government says it is protecting orphans from abuse at the hands of American adoptive parents 19 have died since 1996 while critics have described the law as a cruel nationalist ploy.

U.S. parents have adopted 45,112 Russian children since 1999, including 956 in 2011, according to the State Department.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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