Anastasia Platonova https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/24887/all cached version 11/02/2019 01:32:21 en Death by disdain: the fate of drug users in Russian-occupied territories https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anastasia-platonova/crimea-ukraine-drug-users-fate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With replacement therapy now illegal, drug users in Russian-occupied Crimea and the self-proclaimed republics of the Donbas are finding it hard to survive. <strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anastasia-platonova/sindrom-otmeny" target="_self">RU</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/rsz_14993324_1231446496930310_5312714796326658744_n_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/rsz_14993324_1231446496930310_5312714796326658744_n_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="446" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yevgeny Selin. Source: Facebook.</span></span></span>In 2014, Donetsk native Yevgeny Selin had his own business, a car and an apartment he bought with his own money. Besides work, Selin was involved in civil society, fighting for the rights of addicts, and was in contact with representatives of Ukraine’s Ministry of Health.</p><p dir="ltr">As Yevgeny recalls, his life had been very different just a few years prior. “There were good times and bad times, but mostly it was bad times. I was totally addicted to heroin — I started using when I was around 13 or 14. When we were boys we used to look for or steal poppies in other people’s gardens, this was in the Oryol region, where I used to live, poppies grow everywhere. It was harder in the winter, you had to steal more. Then I moved to Ukraine and started taking crystal meth. When you’re using, you’re always either looking for money or drugs. Or you’re doing the drugs — you do them and go to sleep. And that’s your life.”</p><p dir="ltr">In 2008, Yevgeny’s life began to change. A programme from drug replacement therapy was launched in Ukraine, sponsored by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Ukraine’s parliament had <a href="http://www.aidsalliance.org.ua/ru/library/our/pbzt/pdf/pb_rus.pdf">stated</a> that therapy standards “are in line with Ukrainian legislation” back in 2004, which was when the first pilot programs for the therapy were launched in Kherson and Kyiv.</p><p dir="ltr">Methadone replacement therapy, to be more precise, is practiced in all EU countries, as well as in the USA, India, Cambodia and China. There are 1.3m patients enrolled in treatment today. However, the therapy is banned in Russia. Russia’s top narcologist, Yevgeny Bryun, told oDR that “methadone therapy is just a business,” and that Russia will never have such programmes. </p><p dir="ltr">For addicts from Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Russian jurisdiction spelt disaster.</p><h2>Goodbye to withdrawal symptoms</h2><p dir="ltr">HIV rates in Ukraine remain high: 0.5% of the population <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24113623/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24113623/">lives</a> with HIV, and 60% of those people are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465255/">drug users who use needles</a>.&nbsp;It is believed that replacement therapy <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465255/">will curb the HIV infection rate</a>, because instead of injecting street drugs, addicts will take medicine such as Metadol (active ingredient: methadone) or Ednok (active ingredient: buprenorphine).</p><p dir="ltr">Drug replacement therapy does not result in withdrawal symptoms or euphoria. Typically, the patient comes to a distribution site, gets a glass with the medicine in liquid form, drinks it, and leaves. The addicts no longer have to look for drugs, they stop having problems with the law, and they start having free time — time they used to spend on searching for drugs or money.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Drug replacement therapy does not result in withdrawal symptoms or euphoria</p><p dir="ltr">People who have regularly taken opioid drugs (such as heroin) for over three years can participate in the program. Pregnancy or a serious chronic disease — for example, if the patient is living with HIV — are other factors that determine one’s inclusion in the programme. When an addict decides to start replacement therapy they submit an application, sign an agreement to not sell the medicine, go through medical tests, and visit a narcologist (i.e. an addiction specialist).</p><p dir="ltr">The final decision for inclusion in the program is made by a multidisciplinary committee: two doctors, a social worker and a local project leader. When therapy begins, the doses are gradually increased so that the medicine completely replaces street drugs.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 13.45.18_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 13.45.18_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Clients of the Alliance’s programme. Photo: Natalya Kravchuk, Sergey Krylatov. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The first effects from therapy become evident within three months: most patients report that their physical and mental health is better and that they’re starting to be part of society again.</p><p dir="ltr">After a while, if the patient is completely clean and ready to stop the therapy, the dose of the medicine is gradually decreased until the patient is no longer on it. This usually happens over several years. Today, there are&nbsp;<a href="https://phc.org.ua/pages/diseases/">176 active therapy centres in Ukraine</a>, with a total of 9,806 patients.</p><p dir="ltr">Yevgeny sent an application to participate in the program right away, back in 2008. “Slowly, life began to change. I stopped shooting up immediately,” he recalls. “My old relationships began to repair themselves, friends saw that I was a different person, I won back their trust. I launched my own construction business; we worked on small projects, including street stalls and small shopping centres. We sold them to local businessmen — it was very profitable, and my salary was good by Donetsk standards. I bought a car and an apartment.”&nbsp;</p><h2>“Did you want to spend your whole life high?”</h2><p dir="ltr">As soon as Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, the government immediately moved against drug replacement therapy — doses were sharply reduced and then therapy was halted altogether. Leftover medicine was<a href="http://www.krym.aif.ru/incidents/details/1414061"> burnt</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Anastasia (a pseudonym), who asked me not to reveal her city of residence in Crimea, left prison in 2007, when she was 29. In 2012, she started taking methadone and was able to find work as an English teacher. She took care of herself, her young daughter, and her mother.</p><p dir="ltr">For people like Anastasia, the therapy ban was catastrophic. Like other patients who spoke to oDR, she did not want to go back to street drugs, to lose her job and her family, but she was afraid of withdrawal syndrome. All this came after the Russian government <a href="http://www.narkotiki.ru/5_46404.htm">insisted</a> that no patient would be left behind and all would be given aid.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“For the five years that we took methadone, we got our lives back. We stopped being street addicts”</p><p dir="ltr">Natalia, a native of Sevastopol, was an opioid addict for 25 years. Her medical file was marked with the number 1 — she was the first patient to get replacement therapy in Crimea.</p><p dir="ltr">“For the five years that we took methadone, we got our lives back. We stopped being street addicts. The cancellation of the therapy programme in 2014 was cruel, painful, and terrifying. I signed myself into a psychiatric facility, spent ten days there, and was simply horrified by the medicine they gave us — it put you in a fog but did nothing against withdrawal symptoms, nothing for the pain and fear. I seriously hurt the right side of my body while going through withdrawal symptoms in a bed with sharp netting, and when I asked the nurse for help, she snapped, ‘Did you want to spend your whole life high? Now you’re paying for it’.”</p><h2>“They sat outside doctors’ offices, crying and knocking on doors”</h2><p dir="ltr">Natalia refused to be hospitalised, left the facility and started taking street drugs. Eventually, local doctors suggested she go for treatment in Moscow — in 2014, former therapy patients were given Russian passports very quickly, so many could depart for the mainland. Natalia says she’s one of the few who was given real help. Today, she’s clean.</p><p dir="ltr">Alexander, a patient who lives in Sevastopol,&nbsp;<a href="http://rylkov-fond.org/blog/zamestitelnaya-terapiya/v-rossii/crimea-2/">told</a> a representative of the Andrei Rylkov Fund for Health and Social Justice about how the programme was cancelled in Crimea. Doses were drastically reduced, while clinics didn’t even have the most basic medical supplies. For those who could afford to pay about 5,000 hryvnia (which amounted to around 15,000 rubles or £430 in June of 2014), everything could immediately be found, even Ednok (buprenorphine), which was technically already illegal.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">When therapy was cancelled, former patients were given minimal amounts of painkillers and sleeping pills</p><p dir="ltr">“Other people, who paid [only] 1,500 hryvnia didn’t get that kind of [help],” Alexander said. “They sat outside doctors’ offices, crying and knocking on doors.”</p><p dir="ltr">When therapy was cancelled, former patients were given minimal amounts of painkillers and sleeping pills. Trying to find help, they went to Simferopol, but there were no beds available for them.</p><p dir="ltr">Besides lack of adequate medical help, Crimean addicts were faced with pressure from the authorities. According to Anastasia, friends of hers had their privacy invaded: “People came to distribution centres and stood in line by the office, where they gave out medicine. And they were told, ‘If you don’t give us your personal information, you don’t get access’.”</p><p dir="ltr">Anastasia’s words are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.coe.int/T/DG3/Pompidou/Source/focus/P-PG(2014)%2520Misc%25201rev%2520Report%2520medical%2520expert%2520mission%2520to%2520Ukraine0406.pdf">confirmed by the conclusions drawn by France’s Pompidou group</a>. Their report, published in 2014, says that after the annexation of Crimea, addicts began getting visits from the police — there were registered cases of the confidentiality of their medical records being violated. There is at least one known case of a man who was fired when his boss found out that his employee was a drug replacement therapy patient.</p><h2>A hundred dead — or more?</h2><p dir="ltr">Anastasia did not want to go back to street drugs and had no hope of getting aid in Crimea, which is why she immediately left for Dnipro (formerly known as Dnipropetrovsk) — to continue therapy.<a href="http://www.osce.org/odihr/report-of-the-human-rights-assessment-mission-on-crimea?download=true"> According to the OSCE</a>, around 100 people made similar choices.</p><p dir="ltr">Among Crimean residents there are also those who, like Natalia, went for treatment in Russia. According to data provided by Tatyana Klimenko, assistant to the Russian Minister of Health, 113 out of 806 Crimean patients in replacement therapy made the trip.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/1Pw3TAIYf2pkbYklR3HYENiZy9HrVRwA_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564053/1Pw3TAIYf2pkbYklR3HYENiZy9HrVRwA_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Meeting of the Presidium of the State Council on the implementation of state anti-drug policy. Source: kremlin.ru</span></span></span>Yet not all got the help they needed in Russia. A former therapy patient (who asked to remain anonymous) told oDR that he personally knew Anton, a Crimean native who agreed to be treated in St Petersburg. The alternative treatment method did not work. Anton&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9zhiLK5AGY">died</a> of an overdose.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.bbc.com/russian/society/2015/01/150122_crimea_drugs_crisis">According Michel Kazatchkine</a>, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in eastern Europe and central Asia, the cancellation of the drug replacement therapy programme has led to the deaths of at least 100 people in Crimea.</p><p dir="ltr">Pavel Skala, the policy and partnership director at the <a href="http://eecaplatform.org/partner/alyans-obshhestvennogo-zdorovya/">Alliance for Public Health Fund</a> (“Alliance”), believes that the real number of deaths in Crimea is higher: “According to our estimate, by 2014, up to 120 had died. We stopped tracking the deaths as to not endanger people in Crimea, because the Russian government was actively opposing information-gathering efforts. But we know that former therapy patients in Crimea are still dying. Three years later, the number of the dead is much greater than 120.”</p><p dir="ltr">Russia’s chief narcologist, Yevgeny Bryun, disputes these numbers and believes they are inflated. Yet four former therapy patients from different parts of Crimea have confirmed to oDR that most of their friends are dead, and those who are not dead are using street drugs again.</p><h2>Want therapy? How about a war instead?</h2><p dir="ltr">In 2014, Skala’s organisation launched a special programme for displaced people from Crimea. This allowed Anastasia, who came to Dnipro, to receive 260 hryvnia per day (this included a housing allowance). A few months later, the programme had to expand, so that patients leaving the Luhansk and Donetsk regions could get help. Since the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine, drug replacement therapy has stopped there too.</p><p dir="ltr">Yevgeny Selin also became a client of the Alliance’s programme after he fled Donetsk for Kyiv, not wanting to go back on street drugs. When Yevgeny made it to the Ukrainian capital, he discovered that the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) had put out a search warrant for him, labelling him a pro-Ukrainian activist.</p><p dir="ltr">Yevgeny was able to leave quickly, but Andrei, another therapy patient in Donetsk, was in town when the war started. <a href="http://aph.org.ua/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Proekt-podderzhky-pereselentsev-patsyentov-ZPT.pdf">Andrei told Alliance</a> that people with automatic weapons came to their distribution centre and forced patients to dig trenches.</p><p dir="ltr">In spite of help being offered, most did not dare leave. Addicts have a hard enough time looking for work and building relationships in their own cities, let alone starting over anew. Before the war, there were 759 patients&nbsp;<a href="http://aph.org.ua/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Proekt-podderzhky-pereselentsev-patsyentov-ZPT.pdf">registered in the Donetsk region</a>, of which 327 have now left. In the Luhansk region, 639 were registered, and 289 have left. According to data from 1 February, 2016, Alliance had 207 clients who made the move from the two regions.</p><p dir="ltr">According to&nbsp;<a href="https://spid.center/ru/articles/1480">the available witness reports</a>, most of the patients who remained in territories no longer controlled by Ukraine are dead, or else using street drugs. Precise data are not available.</p><p dir="ltr">Yevgeny lives in Kyiv and has no plans to return to Donetsk. In Kyiv, he has a girlfriend, and on the day of our interview, they went shopping together and then took a stroll through the city streets. In Donetsk, without drug replacement therapy, his life would be very, very different.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Translated by Natalia Antonova.&nbsp;</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/anton-korolyov/down-and-out-in-crimea">Down and out in Crimea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/dmitry-lebedev/kicking-habits-kicking-back">Kicking habits, kicking back</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/elena-vlasenko/cold-turkey-in-russia">Cold turkey in Russia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/anna-rocheva/keeping-welfare-russian">Scaling back on healthcare may start with Russia’s migrants. But it won’t end there</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/artur-asafyev/outrage-and-outsourcing-in-russian-healthcare">Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/isabelle-magkoeva/we-ll-be-living-with-this-for-long-time">We’ll be living with this for a long time</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ksenia-babich/crimea-is-pushed-to-limit">Crimea needs a cure</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Anastasia Platonova Rights for all Ukraine Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:28:18 +0000 Anastasia Platonova 115172 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Not in my classroom: Russia’s refugee children struggle to get to school https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anastasia-platonova/russia-refugee-children-school <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Headteachers in Russia’s schools are turning foreign children away — fearing hefty fines and pressure from the migration services. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anastasia-platonova/deti-bezhenzev" target="_blank"><em><strong>RU</strong></em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Education-in-Emergencies-Will-Syrian-Refugee-Children-Become-a-Lost-Generation_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/Education-in-Emergencies-Will-Syrian-Refugee-Children-Become-a-Lost-Generation_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children of Syrian refugees in an improvised school in Jordan. Forty percent of refugee children from the Middle East are not educated. Photo: Freedom House, open source.</span></span></span>Nura, 12, takes her belongings from her rucksack and lays them on the desk: a big, bright pink pencil-case emblazoned with the words “I’m CHIC”, a notebook, textbooks, and erasers. Nura always shares erasers with her neighbour Gufran, with whom she sits at the back desk in this classroom. On the next row sit two younger girls — another Nura and Soraya, who are best friends. The children slurp lollipops and freshly-picked plums as they take out trading cards. All of them are originally from Aleppo.</p><p dir="ltr">The girls have turned up for a lesson at an integration centre in the town of Noginsk, just outside Moscow. It’s run by <a href="http://refugee.ru/en/">Civic Assistance</a>, a human rights organisation that runs classes for the children of foreign citizens in Russia. The school itself comprises two classrooms in an office building. The walls are covered with posters of the alphabet, animals and household objects, as well as children’s drawings. Among them are samples of applications made to Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS), including possible answers in Arabic and Russian (and phrases such as “documents must be submitted to file an application” and “refusal for temporary asylum”).</p><p dir="ltr">Usually around 10-15 people turn up for a lesson, but today there are just five girls. After all, tomorrow is the festival of Kurban-Bayram. There’s no single timetable — teacher Elena Lebedeva, who is trained in pedagogy, begins the lesson with multiplication tables, then everyone reads a text about a boy, in which they have to insert the missing words in the correct grammatical case. “The towel is on the windowsill — so there is a messes in his room,” concludes Nura.</p><p dir="ltr">“A mess,” Elena Yurevna corrects her. “Teacher?” Gufran raises her hand, pronouncing the Russian word without softening the final “l” as is custom. “What’s a windowsill?” Nine year-old Shahad doesn’t know what the word “everywhere” means. While their elders are engaged, the young girls share green plums among themselves — during breaks Soraya and Nura make a break for a plum tree which grows near the school.</p><p dir="ltr">Gufran tells me that she and her sisters (Soraya and the younger Nura) have lived in Russia for five years. The older Nura and her family moved to Noginsk even earlier — back in 2011. This school for the children of refugees opened three years later. One of its founders was the Syrian journalist Muiz Abu Aljadail. Initially, teachers’ salaries were paid by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). However, local authorities actively obstructed the centre’s work: the FMS put pressure on those from whom it rented facilities, and it soon had to move premises. Muiz eventually left Russia. Today, the centre’s work is only possible thanks to private donations.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Without a clear legal status, the children of refugees cannot receive an education — although they formally have the right</p><p dir="ltr">Syrians have lived in Noginsk since well before the war, and generally worked in textile factories (of which there are eight in this city of 100,000). When war broke out in Syria, many decided to stay here for good and arranged for their families to join them. The majority of these people had arrived in Russia on tourist visas, after which they received temporary asylum. Once that period had expired, the migration service told them that they could return home — in the minds of these government officials, the war in Syria had already come to an end.</p><p dir="ltr">Civic Assistance cites <a href="http://refugee.ru/publications/39-priznannyh-bezhentsev-v-2016-godu-rossijskie-antirekordy-i-pochemu-malta-silnee-rossii">data</a> from the Federal Statistical Service: as of 1 January 2017, only two Syrian citizens in Russia had full refugee status. Some 1,317 had temporary asylum. According to the same body, there are over 2,000 Syrians living in Noginsk alone.</p><p dir="ltr">Without a clear legal status, the children of refugees cannot receive an education — although they formally have the right. Article 43 of Russia’s Constitution <a href="http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_28399/8452df644dd1f63f07ca7744f87beddac2947282/">guarantees</a> the right to a free education, accessible to all. Article 78 of the federal law “On Education” <a href="http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_140174/61481667d956e25b4c53b1febedf53ed1121e78c/">addresses</a> the right of foreign citizens in Russia to free pre-school, primary, and secondary education. Nevertheless, in 2017 the RUssian Ministry of Education adopted <a href="https://rg.ru/2014/04/11/priem-dok.html">Order 32</a>, according to which foreign citizens must present documentary evidence of their right to stay in Russia upon enrolling their children in school.</p><p dir="ltr">This development essentially closed the Russian education system to the children of migrants and refugees. School directors and headteachers frequently interpret the order as meaning that migrants must have the right to temporary or permanent residency in Russia — and refuse to enrol children without it. To make matters worse, pupils are threatened with expulsion when it becomes clear that their registered residency in Russia is drawing to an end.</p><p dir="ltr">Civic Assistance points out that directors and headteachers <a href="http://refugee.ru/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Doklad-o-dostupe-k-obrazovaniyu.pdf">often avoid giving written refusals</a>, and instead simply delay enrolment of refugee children in school, citing incomplete documents. Online enrolment, which has been introduced in all Moscow’s schools, is no better: the system doesn’t allow non-citizens without registration to send their children to first grade.</p><h2>Meet the migration service</h2><p dir="ltr">In 2015, Nurbek Kurbanov, an Uzbek citizen, took his sons’ expulsion from school to Russia’s Supreme Court. Vera Pankova, director of school 34 in the city of Tver, openly discussed her close cooperation with the FMS. In October 2014, the service sent letters to schools across Russia (a copy of which was obtained by Civic Assistance) instructing them to verify the legal status of all their pupils. Otherwise, the letter continued, the school would be fined under an article of Russia’s code of administrative offences, which concerns “provision of a dwelling, vehicle, or other services to a foreign citizen or stateless person who is in the Russian Federation in violation of the established order of rules of travel or transit through its territory.”</p><p dir="ltr">In assessing Kurbanov’s appeal on the case of his expelled children, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the practice was illegal. “The absence of the listed documents [such as a registered place of residence or domicile] cannot be sufficient grounds for refusing the enrolment of a child in any educational institution which has free places,” <a href="http://refugee.ru/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Reshenie-VS.pdf">concluded</a> the court. Yet despite this decision, and aid provided by Civic Assistance, school directors are in no hurry to enrol children without registration.</p><p dir="ltr">Daniil Aleksandrov, a professor at the department of sociology at the Higher School of Economics, adds that not all schools cooperate with the FMS. “I myself have seen how school administrations cover for children who don’t have the right documents from the migration service. The teachers were very worried about their pupils — to such an extent that our researchers were not allowed to enter some of these schools, due to the fear that the children might encounter some [legal] problems as a result.”</p><h2>Avoiding an answer</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/RIAN_02501227.LR_.ru__0_1 (1).jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children during lessons in the secondary school of the village of Krasny Desant, in which there is a refugee camp from the south-eastern regions of Ukraine. Photo: Sergey Pivovarov / RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Arseny Kovpan, an eight-year-old boy from Odessa, didn’t go to school this year. Just like the year before, and the year before that. His family has lived in Russia for three years — Arseny’s father works as a barman, his mother as a hairdresser. His parents are on the migration register, have work contracts, and rent out an apartment. Furthermore, his older sister Yaroslava has already been studying at school for three years — the same school which refuses to admit Arseny.</p><p dir="ltr">Yury Kovpan, the boy’s father, says that when he tried to enrol Arseny in the first grade in June 2016, the school demanded to see not only their temporary registration (which the family had last year, and still has today), but also a temporary residence permit or residency card. The school’s director Natalya Faydyuk didn’t provide a written refusal. “They didn’t directly say ‘no’,” remembers Yury, “but simply kept on repeating that our documentation was incomplete. Bring all the documents, and we’ll admit him.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Kovpan family decided to bring the case to the courts — but first and second instance courts sided with the school. In the words of Darya Manina, an employee of Civic Assistance who reviewed the situation, the main argument of the department of education rested on the expiration of a certain three-month period: Arseny’s parents had <a href="http://refugee.ru/news/ne-hochu-suditsya-hochu-uchitsya-2/">appealed</a> to the court more than three months after the school’s refusal.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">''As soon as the decision is clear, the family must demand the refusal in writing. Headteachers frequently avoid face-to-face meetings, preferring to communicate through their secretaries''</p><p dir="ltr">In a Moscow City Court session on the Kovpan family’s case, a representative of the Department of Education insisted that Arseny’s parents first came to the school not in June, as the father had said, but on 28 August — by which time there were no more free places in class. The court dismissed the case against the school, but Arseny’s parents still intend to petition the Supreme Court. That said, they’ve now gone back on the idea of a conventional school education altogether; Arseny and Yaroslava will now study at home instead.</p><p dir="ltr">Konstantin Troitsky, a rights defender, believes that the case of the Kovpan family, just as many others, shows that parents should always insist on a written refusal. “As soon as the decision is clear, the family must demand the refusal in writing. Headteachers frequently avoid face-to-face meetings, preferring to communicate through their secretaries — they’re very reluctant to provide any written statement, but you must insist.”</p><h2>Prospects and paradoxes</h2><p dir="ltr">The children of Syrian refugees are no exception to this trend — they’re also not wanted in the education sector. This year only three of them are enrolled in school; the rest must stay at home. The families of Nura and Gufran also received a refusal.</p><p dir="ltr">“Our children really like learning. What would they be doing without this school? They’d just sit at home all day, left to themselves. Here, they can spend time together, learn, and meet the volunteers. The main thing is they feel that they’re starting to speak Russian better, that they’re making progress,” says Elena Yuryevna, the children’s teacher in Noginsk. Anna, a volunteer at the centre, agrees with her: “Once we let the younger kids go home early, and thought the older ones would then want to leave too. But Nura said ‘No! We still have maths!’”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/mlag8.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562891/mlag8.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="317" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Children of migrants, as a rule, exemplary pupils, and parents inspire respect for teachers. Photo: MIA "Fergana". All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Nura and Gufran speak Russian well, and take their studies seriously. They always listen to their teacher. But as the sociologist Daniil Aleksandrov puts it, that’s nothing exceptional for the children of migrants or refugees. In a <a href="https://spb.hse.ru/data/2014/11/05/1102249517/Polozhenie_Detei_Migrantov_FULL.pdf">report</a> for the Higher School of Economics on the situation of migrant children in St Petersburg, researchers stated that the main factor affecting progress in education is the age at which they move. If a child moves to a new country before the age of seven, her academic performance will not be markedly different from that of her classmates. Progress in English language, for example, is on average slightly higher among children for whom the Russian language is not native. For example, the average score for algebra among Russian children is 3.5 — for foreign children it’s 3.4.</p><p dir="ltr">“The children of migrants are, as a rule, exemplary students,” concludes Aleksandrov, recalling the words of one school director in the Moscow region. “They are always neat, they always do their homework, and their parents instil in them a respect for their teacher.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">''We asked children without Russian citizenship whether they encountered xenophobia or discrimination. They say that there were some cases — on public transport, on the street — but not a single instance at school''</p><p dir="ltr">Nura and Gufran say that from time to time, strangers glare or shout at them to “go home.” However, Aleksandrov is certain that migrant children rarely face xenophobia. “My colleagues came across an interesting paradox” begins the sociologist. “On the one hand, a teacher says that migration is an awful thing — ‘people come over here, they fill the streets…’ and so on. But if you give it ten minutes and ask about her migrant pupils, she’ll say that she has amazing children in her class who study very hard. Half her mind is occupied by this fear of migrants; the other half by her wonderful students!”</p><p dir="ltr">Aleksandrov continues that other schoolchildren tend to have a good attitude towards children of other nationalities. “We asked children without Russian citizenship whether they encountered xenophobia or discrimination. They say that there were some cases — on public transport, on the street — but not a single instance at school.” Stories about frequent conflicts between Russian schoolchildren and the children of migrants are nothing but myths, he believes.</p><p dir="ltr">Fatima’s mother (one of the three Syrian children who have been enrolled in school in Noginsk) confirms this: “Fatima does clash with other children: she says that sometimes the kids whisper behind her back, but there are no big problems with her classmates.” As Aleksandrov puts it, school is a safe social space for migrant children.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">''Children who don’t have access to a school education often experience serious difficulties — they find it difficult to socialise, and rarely end up with a well-paying job''</p><p dir="ltr">Research carried out in 2010 by Yuliya Florinskaya, a researcher at the Russian Institute of Demography, found that the <a href="http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2012/0515/analit02.php">percentage of the children of migrants who don’t attend school varies from 10 to 25%</a>. Troitsky believes that migration policy depends on the position of the particular region: “In Moscow city everything is fairly harsh, but in the wider Moscow region, there’s no unified, centralised system — so variants are possible. However, in Noginsk the authorities won’t budge, and Syrian children aren’t going to school.”</p><p dir="ltr">“Children who don’t have access to a school education often experience serious difficulties — they find it difficult to socialise, and rarely end up with a well-paying job, as they have very limited opportunities,” explains Aleksandrov. “A child may fall into the grey economy, or work in a tyre repair shop or something like that, and remain there for the rest of his life. A girl who stays at home and helps her mother with the housework will usually end up as a cleaner or work in the service sector. Furthermore, schooling for these children is also a way of integrating their parents — they’ll go to parents’ meetings and participate in the life of the school. That’s why we stress the idea that schools should be left alone.”</p><p dir="ltr">Yet despite the hard work of lawyers and human rights defenders, school education is accessible only to a few. A March 2016 report by Russia Today on the school in Noginsk <a href="https://russian.rt.com/article/153232">claimed</a> that “Russia [compared to western countries] strives to take all necessary measures to fully integrate refugees into society, so that they can continue to live, work, and study as usual.”</p><p>A school education, apparently, is not included in these “necessary measures for integration” — foreign parents should presumably educate their children themselves. Meanwhile, Russia continues to provide <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/neil-hauer/to-victors-ruins-challenges-of-russia-s-reconstruction-in-syria">increased military support</a> to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and the self-proclaimed republics in south-eastern Ukraine. The victims of these conflicts will just have to make do.</p><p><em>Translated by Maxim Edwards.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ekaterina-neroznikova/convert-and-love-russia-s-muslim-wives">Convert and love: Russia’s Muslim wives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ivan-grinko/why-moscow-will-never-get-museum-of-migration">Why Moscow will never get a museum of migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/ekaterina-neroznikova/strangers-in-village">Strangers in the village </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Anastasia Platonova Migration matters Education Thu, 21 Sep 2017 20:20:50 +0000 Anastasia Platonova 113517 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Anastasia Platonova https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/anastasia-platonova <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Anastasia Platonova </div> </div> </div> <p>Anastasia Platonova is a Russian journalist. She graduated from Moscow State University’s school of civic journalism. Her articles have appeared in <em>RIA Novosti</em>, <em>Novaya Gazeta</em>, <em>Colta.ru</em>, <em>Kommersant</em>, and she has worked for the Podsolnukh foundation and Dobro.Mail.Ru project.</p> Anastasia Platonova Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:03:49 +0000 Anastasia Platonova 113529 at https://www.opendemocracy.net