Boris Altshuler: "Children have become victims of the corruption rife in our society"

posted 17 Jul 2016, 02:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Jul 2016, 02:13 ]
5 July 2016

Source: 'Children have become victims of the corruption rife in our society,' Moscow Helsinki Group, 5 July 2016 [original source: Regnum

There should be a system of independent monitoring of government contracts made with private organisations for the provision of children’s activities, Boris Altshuler, head of the Right of the Child NGO and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, has said, commenting on the purchase at auction of trips to a children’s summer camp in Karelia. 

“We have no independent quality controls at all. Firstly, it is completely unclear why Syamozero won the tender and why this happened that they were allowed to operate at all, despite the fact that the camp counsellors got drunk last year. This should never happen anywhere! If something like this happens, such a transgression as this, then the owner should be fined no less than the annual income of the entire company, or deprivation of the licence. And to have no penalty or fine, and be allowed to work again – this must be due to a bribe. And so children have become victims of the corruption which is rife in our society,” said Altshuler.

The human rights advocate explained that such tragedies can only occur as a result of a lack of suitable oversight of the organisation of children’s holiday activities. In his words, it is necessary to introduce a fundamentally different system of accountability. “We need a system that will force these businessmen to work, to engage in quality control of their own work, and, if they do not check the quality – then they will know that will be the end of their businesses. These people will start to take action for the simple fact that they will be afraid of losing everything. And this threat must be significant,” he stressed.

As previously stated by the Ministry of Economic Development, the terms of the tender for the organisation of the children’s recreation camp in Karelia had been drawn up to suit the Syamozero hotel, where the children perished. On Syamozero’s website extracts from the terms of reference for the tender were republished word for word, “including grammatical errors.”

Earlier, Moscow's deputy mayor for social issues, Leonid Pechatnikov, reported that the Federal Antimonopoly Service had found no violations in the Department of Social Protection of Moscow, which placed the official order for the organisation of children’s activities with Syamozero. 

As stated by the deputy head of the Department of Social Protection of Moscow, Olga Gracheva, city authorities have annulled the government contract with the camp in Karelia.

The tragedy took place in Karelia on 18 June during a boat trip on the lake. Of the 47 children and four counsellors from the Syamozevo Health Camp who went on the boat trip, 14 drowned.

Translated by Kate Goodby