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Monday, March 31, 2008

EDITORIAL: Russia and its Children


Russia and its Children

A little over a month after this blog was founded, we published a list of reasons for being a "russophobe" along with a definition of that key term. The first comment that post received, by someone who lacked the courage or initiative to make up a consistent name for him/herself, stated:
Does anyone actually read this blog? Yet another of the world's overwritten, underread [sic] websites. You poor thing! You seem to spend so much time doing it, too! It's hilariously bad.
That post now has 144 comments, and La Russophobe went on to become one of the most heavily trafficked Russia blogs on the planet and the dominant force in the Russia blogosphere, with nearly a quarter million visits to date. As we note at the bottom of our splash page, Vincent Van Gogh only sold two paintings while he was alive out of more than a thousand he created. Some people, especially those from the moronic Russophile set, seem to take quite some time to "get it."

The #1 reason we gave for being a "russophobe" was:
Russia hates families, especially women and children. Domestic violence kills one Russian woman every 40 minutes. Ten times more Russian women are killed by their husbands than American women by theirs, although America has twice Russia's population That means a woman's chances of being killed by her husband are twenty times greater if she is a Russian. More than 1,200 adopted children have been murdered by their parents in Russia since 1991. The general murder rate in Russia is the fifth highest in the world even though the secret police run its government.
In other words, one can (and should) fear or hate Russia because it brutalizes its children and takes no action to reform. One despises Russians because one loves their babies more than they do. And one maintains that attitude until Russians remove its basis. Any other response, in our view, is facilitation, enabling, collaboration.

Such brutality towards children, you can well imagine, has a dire impact upon marital relations. Russia and its kissing cousin Belarus lead the world in destruction of the family through divorce, with two out of three Russian marriages ending that way. We noted in our "russophobe" post that, besides hating their spouses, Russians don't feel too good about themselves either: Hence, one Russian person kills him/herself every ten minutes in Russia (that adds up to 60,000 per year or 41 suicides per 100,000 people -- only Lithunania has more). This suicide rate is four times higher than for the United States.

In a recent column we report today from the Moscow Times, the brilliant Russian commentator Georgy Bovt, who hosts a program on Moscow's City-FM radio station, told the paper's readers more about this ongoing atrocity against Russia's children. He noticed that while incidents of violence against Russian children by American adoptive parents, which are the rare exception to the general rule, get massive airtime on anti-American, state-owned Russian television whenever they occur, the Kremlin totally ignores the outrageous conduct of Russians themselves. And this doesn't apply only to state-controlled media. When has "president" Putin ever given a speech demanding that Russians take better care of their children? His only noteworthy action regarding children during his first two terms was an initiative to bribe parents to have more children. Such an action, without dealing with the existing crisis, can only be viewed as insanely irresponsible and incendiary.

Bovt writes:
If we are so concerned about the fate of Russian children adopted by foreigners, why do we remain silent about the children adopted by Russians? There are no statistics available on domestic abuse cases of adopted children. We know only that 2,500 Russian children die at their parents' hands every year, according to Interior Ministry statistics. We don't know how many of those children were adopted because the country has no system for monitoring the progress of adopted children. But we do know that 1 million adoptive parents were deprived of their adoption rights because of child abuse. Another 2,500 families changed their minds and sent the children they had adopted back to the orphanages.
The answer to the question he asks, of course, is simple: Russian's aren't "so concerned." In fact, they're not concerned at all. What motivates them is not love for their children, but hatred for America. Bovt writes:
Russian laws governing adoptions by foreigners have gotten stricter in recent years. Even accredited adoption agencies are finding it difficult to manage -- primarily because of the pervasive corruption among bureaucrats. Only in the last two years has the number of Russians adopting children -- 7,000 -- exceeded that of foreigners adopting Russian children -- 6,000.
So foreigners care more about Russia's children, and adopt more of them, than Russians themselves. And now, by imposing restrictions on that process, Russia is actually choking off that care, condemning its parentless children to lives of brutal isolation. In Russians' view these children are garbage, but still too good to give to filth-ridden Americans.

That's barbarism, pure and simple. Only such an attitude could explain why Russia loses up to one million people from its population every year as all manner of disease and pestilence ravage the nation. The average Russian man doesn't live to see his sixtieth year, placing Russia outside the world's top 100 nations in that category. Russia is, indeed, barbaric as a matter of statistics.

And it doesn't care. As Bovt points out, it doesn't even try to keep -- much less publish -- basic records regarding its performance, and even if it was doing so such data could not be taken seriously. Russians have chosen to be ruled by a proud KGB spy whose words are no more trustworthy than astrology. Bovt's column itself is victimized by a failure to fully recognize this lack of reliability: When he states "we do know that 1 million adoptive parents were deprived of their adoption rights because of child abuse" he forgets to insert they key phrase "at least" to signal that this Russian data cannot be considered reliable and could well be a gross understatement -- owing not merely to Kremlin dishonesty but also to Russia's general tradition of bureaucratic corruption and incompetence.

According to Bovt's Russian data, 2,500 Russian children are killed by their parents each year. Between 1976 and 2005, 511 American children under age 5 were killed each year by their parents. Demographic data of this kind is widely and freely available about American society, and reveals that America, with twice as many people as Russia, has five times fewer annual parental child murders than Russia. This means that its rate of child homicide is ten times lower than Russia's. It's possible that Bovt's figures consider children older than five, but that is easily counterbalanced by the Kremlin's documented dishonesty and incompetence in publishing such statistics.

This is merely one aspect of a much larger problem. The overall mortality rate in Putin's Russia has been steadily rising throughout his tenure in office (it is up nearly 15% since 2003), and currently only 21 countries in the whole world have higher mortality rates than Russia. At 16/1,000 Russia's mortality rate is double that of the United States, and the only thing Putin has been able to think of to deal with that reality is to bribe Russian parents to have more children. This classic Russian "solution" is actually worse than the existing problem. People don't want children, but they do want money. So they take the money, have the child -- and then what happens? That child will be lucky to live to see his 18th birthday, and if he does he'll certainly be impacted by the fact that the only reason he exists is because he got paid. Meanwhile, nothing is done about Russia's alarming mortality rate, which sees the average Russian man fail to reach his sixtieth year of life. From AIDS to smoking to house fires, Russia's population is being wiped out by every scourge and disease imaginable, while the Kremlin ignores the problem and spends its cash buzzing America and Britain with strategic bombers and sending weaponry to the likes of Venezuela, Syria and Iran. Putin's government is failing the people of the country totally, yet they yield to him uncontested power to even further destroy their children.

That is barbarism, pure and simple.

Russia has obliterated its mass media and clearly fears the revelation of humiliating data on topics like Russian families. America, by contrast, has the world's most aggressive and dynamic media marketplace, and seems to lose no opportunity to criticize itself and unearth such data. It's no coincidence, then, that America's population is double that of Russia and its standard of living incomparably higher. Russia's government has collapsed twice in the past century, while America has been stable and consistent for more than two centuries.

And Russia's response, as Bovt notes with proper outrage, is apparently that it doesn't mind destroying itself as long as it can simultaneously prove to itself that Americans are worse than they are, using bogus evidence served up by lackeys of a police state, just as was done in Soviet times, heedless of the fact that the Soviet Union collapsed and disappeared because of this insane policy.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

"In Russians' view these children are garbage"

I could not agree more with this statement. It reminded me of a time I was speaking to a Russian friend who was undergoing her third round of IVF treatment in the hope of becoming pregnant. She was very concerned that it would fail, so I - an ignorant westerner - simply suggested that she and her husband think about adoption. Her response was sickening, apparently these children are viewed as bad stock, probably with genetic defects (inherited from the parents) that make them unable to be normal human beings. It is a pity that russians have this attitude, these children need good homes but instead they are given no chance in life.