Right now the Russian Duma is working on legislation to develop a juvenile justice system. Some Russians, including but not limited to groups on the conservative and Orthodox end of the activist spectrum, are concerned about the possibility that juvenile justice will give the state new reach into families. The creation of new “rights” for children, they fear, may be just an excuse for government to snatch children out of their families.
Today several individuals were picketing the Duma with signs asking legislators to protect families and the institution of parenthood by voting against the legislation. (Pickets of more than one person require a permit, while individuals are officially allowed to demonstrate freely.) I spent some time talking to one older woman (not pictured) who was asking passers-by to write to Putin himself to demand that he oppose the law. Occasionally she saw a lawyer or legislator she recognized walking past us, and called out for them to vote against the law. This law will destroy families, she told me, then asked if I had children. I answered no, not yet. Imagine you do, she continued–this law will allow the government to come at any moment and just take them away, and you won’t even know where they are.