by Simon Crofts / Anzenberger
"Wild capitalism" has put unprecedented strains on the institution of family in the former Soviet Union. The need to find work to survive has made it difficult for many parents to care for their children. Unemployment, alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence has created a generation of children many of whose parents are either unable to feed and care for them, or who are abusive, or in prison, or affected by the epidemics of TB and HIV that have flourished in the weakened immune systems associated with economic deprivation. In Soviet times, the solution was the state orphanage. Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB, created the Soviet system of orphanages that provided an unquestioning source of cannon fodder for the Red Army during WWII.* With the Soviet break-up, these orphanages were left in a vacuum. The children from these institutions are often under-developed intellectually and socially, and are left with little hope of advancement or employment in the private sector after they leave. It is all too easy for them to fall prey to a circle of crime, drugs, prostitution and prison. The hopelessness faced by the graduates of children" institutions promises a vicious circle for the future of crime, drugs, alcohol, HIV, and yet more orphans. There are glimmers of hope. Fostering and adoption outside the state system is becoming more com¬mon and are being encouraged by the state, while state social services and private NGO"s are increasingly providing support to multi-children families and single mothers in an attempt to keep children in families and out of the orphanages.
*Lilina Zinovieva, wife of the Communist leader Zinoviev, declared that:
"Children, like soft wax, are malleable, and should become good communists. We must rescue [them] from the nefarious influence of family life... we must nationalise them. From the earliest days of their little lives, they must find themselves under the beneficent influence of the Children"s Gardens and the Communist Schools. They will learn the ABC of Communism, and later on become true Communists. To oblige the mother to give her child to us - to the Soviet state - that is our task."