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152

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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152 RUSSIA AND PEACE
I
for them ; they cannot possibly house any more,
and there are no funds to open new hornes, i
The Russian Soviet journals contain harrowing
descriptions of the state of things among these
waifs and orphans in the towns, whither they flock
from the country. And from every town they
beg and thieve their way to Moscow, where they
have become a serious danger. It is estimated
that 15,000 of them live in the deserted houses
and cellars of that city. When they are taken to
public children’s hornes near the city they run
away again, and frequently entice a number of
their new companions to escape with them., 1
The streets are full of hosts of little cigarettte
sellers, little beggars, little pickpockets and roughs,
as well as little prostitutes. It is true, remarks
one paper (the Pravda of Moscow) that we have
no criminal statistics, but we know that fourteen
and fifteen year old boys murder and plunder,
and bring their booty to their mistresses, who are
only twelve or thirteen years old, The keepers
of some of the worst haunts of these criminal gangs
have been found to be young boys of fifteen to
seventeen. Agents of the Moscow Soviet, who
have investigated the conditions, have found little
girl prostitutes of ten or eleven years to whom the
traffic in vodka (spirits) and cocaine was quite
familiar.
Crime is increasing at an alarming rate among
children. Nimble little hands snap up everything
that is left unguarded even for a moment, and the
" income " from this thieving is at once invested

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