Two Russian children spent five years locked in a single room

Controversy over child abuse damages U.S.-Russia relations

By Nicholas Nehamas

Russian infants at an orphanage in the Ural Mountains. (Reuters)

From Russia, a horrific case of child abuse: two young children have spent five years locked in a single, filth-ridden room. The news comes as a high-ranking Russian official engages in a war of words with the U.S. over adoption.

Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s Children Rights Commisioner, says adopted Russian children are being abused in the U.S. His duties include ensuring the welfare of Russian youth at home and abroad.

In June, Astakhov made a controversial visit to a ranch in Montana that cares for Russian kids with severe behavioral problems. Latitude News was the first American news organization to report on the incident. But the recent case in Russia suggests Astakhov may need to pay more attention to events in his own country.

The two children, a boy and a girl, had not left their one-room prison in five years, reports Russia Today, a state-funded television station. Their parents are severe alcoholics.

“The kids’ condition was just awful,” says an assistant prosecutor in the southern Russian city of Roston-on-Don, where the family lives. “They could neither walk nor talk. The boy, who is six, could not differentiate colors. Their personalities have totally degraded.”

Authorities handed over the children to their grandmother.

It’s just the latest in a string of high-profile child abuse cases in Russia. Earlier this month, a mother was sentenced to eight years in prison for leaving her infant son in the middle of a busy highway, hoping he would be run over. An anonymous commenter on Latitude News agrees that Astakhov should focus more on how children are treated in Russia.

“Beemommy” writes: “Perhaps a better idea would be to look into the treatment of these children in the orphanages of Eastern Europe before they get adopted. My son was beaten, thrown into walls and doors (has the scars on his head from that) and molested by a member of the staff and her boyfriend. It is common knowledge that many workers have sex/watch porn during the night and the kids witness it or even are forced to participate. Oh, by the way, my son has mutilated and killed animals and assaulted me many, many times. Thankfully, he is getting the treatment he needs.”