2011/12/29 "Christmas Story in Russia"
  • Press Release No. 98/1434
  • 29/12/2011

Six months ago when we told about M.U. 69647 where the Mother's Right Foundation registered several cases of servicemen's deaths within 2010-2012, we mentioned Anton Shabunin. The boy from the Kirov Region applied to us in a desperate situation. In his first letter, he wrote: ‘My name is Anton Nikolayevich Shabunin. I was born in 1991. My father died in 1999, and my mother died in 2009. My only brother died in M.U. 69647, Buryatia, on June 24, 2010. According to the deputy head of the administration, my brother's body was transported to our village at the expense of some official. At present, they demand that I pay him 5,000 rubles. What am I to tell these people? (...) I did not serve in the army because of my health problems. I have no education, and it's difficult for me to find a job. I started working in December 2010, but the salary is too small. No food, no clothing, no footwear. My apartment was renovated 15 years ago when dad was alive. I have no money to buy firewood. Please help me". We talked to Anton by phone and found out that beside the problems described in the letter he had a stammering problem. It's a serious communication problem for him, especially when he talks to officials. It was shocking to know that Anton was facing such difficulties alone. He had nobody to ask for help. He had nobody to ask for advice.

Quoting from Anton's letter in our press release in June we hoped to change the situation for the better. We hoped that some sympathetic people in the Kirov Region would help him - would share their provisions and clothes, give advice. We were surprised that people from the Kirov Region did not respond a desperate letter of their countryman: no letters came.  Response came from other regions. First came a letter from Svetlana from Ryazan. She transferred 8000 rubles to the foundation to provide help for Anton (the amount was enough to cover his debts for municipal utilities), later she called and asked whether she could do something else for the boy. As a teacher, she supported the foundation's idea, ‘Of course, Anton should get education. How will he manage without education?' But how to make it come true? Anton will have to move to Kirov to enter a college... He'll have to find lodging and pay for it. He will have to work because he won't be able to live on his loss-of-breadwinner pension. When we asked Anton about all this, he answered, ‘Yes, I'd like to get education. I dream to become a programmer but it's impossible because I've no money'. And we understood that he would not have money without education and work...

Perhaps, if someone has a dream it has to come true. After Svetlana, moscovite Sergei Dmitriyevich transferred 60,000 rubles to the foundation to help Anton Shabunin. We talked to Anton and then found a college for him - the Vyatsky College of Management and New Technologies, Kirov. After some negotiations they agreed to make a discount. We concluded a contract and paid for his studies: Dmitry Sergeyevich's donation was enough for 1 year of studies. Before the beginning of the college year, Anton moved to Kirov and started his studies. In spite of difficulties, the orphan's life was getting better.

Suddenly, at the end of October, Anton wrote that he had been penalized: he applied to the District Department of the Federal Migration Service (he reached the age of 20) but the officials did not give him a new passport. They penalized him instead. Anton did not know that he should have exchanged his passport within 30 days after reaching the age of 20: nobody informed him. At that moment, Anton received a loss-of-breadwinner pension in the amount of 4000 rubles. His expenses were as follows: 1500 rubles - lodging in the dormitory; 500 rubles - ticket; 2000 rubles - food, clothes, books, etc. Anton starved. He was looking for a job when they penalized him. The fine would have been just a trifle for some other person but it was a disaster for Anton.

So, we call to the District Department of the Federal Migration Service and ask them why they penalized the orphan. They: ‘We didn't know because he did not mention about it'. We: ‘Didn't you see who came to you? The boy was poorly dressed, stammering and could not explain himself'. They: ‘We've got too much work... We didn't notice...' We apply to the regional authorities. We call to the Department of the Federal Migration Service. The answer is: ‘Our chief ordered to dismiss the boy's application. I'm sorry for him but can do nothing'.

We call to the head of the dormitory and he says, ‘Sorry but I can't give him a discount because our dormitory belongs to the other college. A discount is not due to Anton'. All in all: ‘We didn't notice. We didn't know. He is not ours'.

After all, we had to tell them, ‘For some reason, unknown people - Svetlana from Ryazan and Sergei from Moscow - thought it right to help the boy. They did not think that the boy was not theirs. Thanks to those two people, Anton was able to enter a college to get education. The state and its officials do not help the boy who found himself in a difficult situation. They oblige him to pay a fine instead. Transporting of his brother's body, debts for municipal utilities which should have been paid for at the time when Anton was a child, fine for the passport...'

Surprisingly so, but the fine was cancelled. The head of the dormitory did not make a discount but gave him a job. This is what Anton wrote in his recent letter: ‘I am to clean snow from two porches. They're near the dormitory. It suits me quite well. I'm starting work tomorrow'

It's not the matter of money. It's about Anton's views on society and the world around him. We would not like him to think bad of them. People are better than they think of themselves.

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!