Baptist denied custody of sister

Arkhiv Samizdata, 3286, 20/ 9/ 78. Nina Zakharova, a Baptist, addresses an appeal «to all mothers whose children are dear to them and to everyone who respects family life». Nina’s father was the Baptist Pavel Zakharov, who died on July 1, 1971, at the age of forty-nine, after spending almost all his adult life in prison camps and in exile on account of his religious beliefs. At the age of eighteen Nina became an orphan, and, as the eldest in the family, she took upon herself the task of looking after her three brothers and sisters, who were then five, thirteen, and sixteen. All the older Zakharov children are believers too and are attempting to give, their youngest sister, Elena, a religious education (which, as Nina says, entirely corresponds to the girl’s own wishes). For this reason the Pervomai Raiispolkom of Rostov-on-Don deprived Nina of the right to act as the guardian of her younger sister, who was eleven at that time. It was decided that Elena would be sent to an orphanage. «There are many crimes in this world», writes Nina Zakharova, «but I know none worse than taking a child away from its family… I am prepared to move — they have taken away our house, you know — and were are ready to live in poverty, because they’ve fired my brother from technical school, where she is due to finish her course this year… I can put up with all that, but to be parted from my little sister is beyond my strength». (JW)

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