A Violent Russia
Russian families are under siege in Vladimir Putin's Russia, and they are getting hit from every conceivable front. Putin's response is the typical Soviet answer: lies and coverup rather than reform.
Even state-sponsored propaganda mouthpiece Russia Today admits that domestic violence is out of control. One Russian woman is murdered by her spouse every hour on the hour, adding up to a ghastly total of 14,000 such killings every year, more than ten times the number the U.S. has, even though the U.S. population is twice the size of Russia's. Even more are physically brutalized without being killed, and the so-called "stable" and "law and order" regime of KGB spymaster Putin does nothing to stop it. If Russia Today is willing to go that far, dare we imagine the extent of the actual truth?
But women are not just victims in Russia, they are also perpetrators. Their victims are their children.
Seasoned Russia scribe Irina Titova reports that there were 268 reported cases of newborn babies being murdered by their mothers in 2010-2011, and writes that "Russian media have carried regular reports of babies found in garbage containers, forests, or snowdrifts." Such data is always vastly underreported by the Russian state, but even as stated Russia has roughly the same number of newborn murders in two years as the USA has in ten. Basically, a Russian mother kills her newborn at least once every other day, year in year out. Russia's overall rate of infant mortality is more than double that of the United States, on par with Sri Lanka.
Infanticide has gotten so bad, Titova writes, that Russians have adapted something called a "baby box" to deal with it, and are implementing the system as fast as they can. The "baby box" allows a woman to drop her baby anonymously at a care agency, no questions asked, by dropping it through a slot as if it were parcel post.
It's an appalling reality that motivates such a terrifying mechanism: Every two days in Russia, almost fifty women are killed by their spouses and one newborn is killed by its mother.
"We have to pay attention to why some parents are so aggressive and heartless toward their own children," head of the Public Chamber committee on citizen safety, Anatoly Kucherena, told RIA Novosti. "This is a question for the society in which we live, we need to dampen aggression, which has increased a lot of late," he warned. But he does not offer any ideas for how to actually do it.
Another Russian, Irina Ratushinskaya, advises however that the Russian state is no better a caretaker of children. The barbaric conditions imposed by Russian orphanages are well-documented, with the only hope often being to flee the country, and Ratushinskaya explains the horrifying consequences:
Kristina Serganova, 15, was taken from her mother together with her younger sisters in the Arkhangelsk region. Why? The family was considered "socially inadequate," or, to put it bluntly, too poor. Kristina preferred poverty with her mother to state care. She escaped from the children's home several times but was recaptured and returned. Finally, she hanged herself [Russian-language link] in January. Children can be seized right now by social workers for, say, their parents' debts for municipal services. "Pay your bills, and we'll return your children," social workers told [Russian language link] Vera Kamkina in St. Petersburg when they took away all four of her children in 2010. Unfortunately, there are quite a few similar cases.
The solution chosen by the teenaged Kristina Serganova is far from uncommon in Putin's Russia, which has the tenth-highest suicide rate on the planet, double that of the United States, and its young people are particularly likely to pursue the option: Russia leads the world in teen suicides, with a rate nearly four times higher than America's.
Domestic violence and suicide are just two of the many indicators of Russia's looming demographic crisis. At present, Russia is a stunning #112 on the list of 194 world nations ranked by life expectancy of their populations. In every category, from road fatalities to cigarette smoking to alcoholism to home fires, Russia is among the world leaders.
News of this crisis may come as a surprise to those Westerners who have swallowed the Kremlin's propaganda and don't realize the perilous weakness of the Russian economy and the incredible pressure that Russian families are under. A stunning recent report in the Daily News shows how Putin's paid Western PR agents are seeding our media (including left-wing outfits like Huffington Post and CNBC) with fields of lies about Putin's performance as an economic leader. For more than a decade now, Putin has relied on these lies to justify his merciless crackdowns, and the crackdowns have led to higher and higher levels of economic failure.
In other words, it's exactly the same thing that happened when Russia was the USSR.
How could any reasonable person ever possibly have believed that Putin, a lifelong KGB spy with no credentials or training in market economics or democratic politics, might be capable of transforming Russia into a state vastly different from the USSR, and less of a failure? From the beginning, Putin has done exactly what his resume would indicate. He has confronted the United States, he has rolled back freedoms, and he has wallowed in corruption.
Indeed, Russian social violence is merely a reflection of its national leader. The ink was barely dry on Putin's appointment as KGB head back in the 1990s when a leading Kremlin critic, legislator Galina Starovoitova, was murdered. Then came the gunning down of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, followed by that of human rights activist Natalia Estemirova. Putin hasn't hesitated, in the classic Soviet tradition, to murder, jail, or expel from the country anyone who dares to challenge his authority. It's even believed in many circles that he had two apartment buildings in Moscow blown up, at the cost of hundreds of lives, so he could blame it on Chechen terrorists and justify invading that war-torn breakaway region.
A regime like this can no more survive the long haul than could the USSR. But before Putin's dictatorship collapses, both his fellow citizens and the world community will be in for very bumpy night.