Staunton, May 10 – Every year, Russian officials bemoan the fact that the number of World War II veterans who survive is declining fast, especially now that the youngest are in their late 80s. But at least Moscow pays them some attention. But it has completely failed to attend to and help another and larger group of victims – the children of those who died in that war.
In a remarkable article which appeared yesterday on the Kavkazskaya politika portal, Svetlana Bolotnikova observes that “the state has been quite concerned about the [war’s] veterans but it has entirely forgotten about the children of those soldiers who died” in that conflict (kavpolit.com/articles/my_rosli_bez_ottsov_v_golode_i_nischete-25510/).
As a result, the journalist and commentator says, this group, which is far larger although already in its 70s, has grown up not only “without fathers” but “in hunger and poverty,” a damning indictment of a regime that constantly proclaims its commitment to taking care of those Russians who suffered from that war.
Bolotnikova devotes most of her article to recounting the often horrific lies of families caught up in this situation, people who had already suffered from the GULAG and the Holodomyr before the war and whose suffering only increased when they were caught up in the conflict when their husbands were killed or missing in action.
Such mothers and their children also suffered, she recounts, when they lived on occupied territories and were afraid of the consequences of turning to officials, and when Soviet officials refused to help them and their children beyond suggesting that widows give up their children to orphanages and get to work.
But in addition to their suffering, these people who number in the hundreds of thousands suffered because at no point did the government of the USSR or has the government of the Russian Federation adopted special programs to provide assistance for those whose fathers or mothers died in the conflict.
That has left many in dire poverty, without prospects for education and pensions, and in a situation that one of their number says has left the children of the dead and the MIAs from World War II in a much worse position that those who are children of veterans who have served in the Russian military since that time.
Some regions and some all-Russian political parties have moved to do something about this, but they have been consistently opposed by the Putin regime and United Russia. Fifteen federal subjects – including Adygeya – have adopted special laws, and the KPRF has introduced legislation to rectify the situation.
Representatives of the Kremlin and the party of power have routinely rejected this proposal with many representatives of United Russia saying that such a measure could open the way to providing government support for all children born during World War II even if their parents survived.
“Yet another argument those opposed” to such a measure often advance, Bolotnikova says, is that those involved are already older than 70 and have other bases to claim pensions. That may be true in some cases, but the journalist’s investigation shows that it is not true in all too many.
Yes, it is true, the journalist concludes, the proposed law won’t make a big distinction between the children of those who died and of those who lived. But it is also the case that even this measure would provide “laughably” small assistance to many who have not received any throughout their lives.
In short, it appears, such a law is the least Moscow can do; unfortunately, at present and despite all its ballyhoo about the Great Patriotic War, the Putin government isn’t prepared to do even that.