MOSCOW, September 25 (Itar-Tass) — Head of the Volunteers to Help Orphans foundation Yelena Alshanskaya said she believed the escape of eight children from the Reutov boarding school can be explained by their apprehensions about the transfer to a similar facility in the town of Yegoryevsk.
"We are sponsors of the Reutov boarding school; it was small and hence practically a family. In February, reports said it might be shut down. We asked all bodies and the mass media and the ministry of education of the Moscow region said nobody was going to close it," Alshanskaya said.
"In the summer, the rumors about the shutdown of the boarding school resurfaced; and officials denied them again. Yesterday, they gathered children to tell them to pack; and eight of them ran away," the charity foundation director said.
Alshanskaya said the volunteers talked the children into returning so that they do not find themselves in a dangerous situation.
"They’ve been accommodated at the Yegoryevsk boarding school; 13 kids in all; in various groups to prevent their communicating with each cither. They are not allowed to talk with the volunteers or journalists; the mobile phones of some children do not answer.
"Small boarding schools provide for creating a family atmosphere; actually, this is what it should be like at such facilities. But these boarding schools are shut down; Moscow has closed two such schools," she noted.
For his part, spokesman for the regional education ministry Andrei Finogenov told Tass the ministry had indeed overturned the decision to shut down the Reutov boarding school in February as "unprepared."
The situation has changed by now. The children have been moved to a comfortable orphans' home, from an adapted house to a specialized one. There is also an instruction from children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov to decrease the number of children’s homes," he reminded. Other facilities will be shut down in the future. "Not immediately, but in the future," he said.
Spokeswoman for the children's ombudsman Veronika Kochetova confirmed the guideline for cutting the number of children's homes. Yet it should not be understood literally. "We should cut children's homes by accommodating children in well-selected adoptive families monitored by specialists," she underlined.
Last year, 16 children's homes were shut down in the Krasnodar territory. The situation is similar in the Kaluga region. There were no scandals because children were placed in families, and boarding schools' personnel were given other employment opportunities. "If volunteers or children transferred to the Yegoryevsk boarding school complain to us about the conditions or some threats, this information will be checked," she assured.
Earlier, ombudsman Pavel Astakhov asked Moscow region governor Sergei Shoigu and regional prosecutor Alexander Anikin to look into the Reutov boarding school getaway. Moscow region authorities promptly denied any conflict in the situation.