Today completing my translation of this interview with Moscow police veteran Roman Khabarov , as he and Reporter Tatiana Telpis conduct a post-mortem of the “Hamlet on the Arbat” incident which has rattled Russian society. The key issue here: Were the rights of this boy violated by the police?
Western propaganda outlets seized on this incident with an apparently agreed-upon narrative of their own, here is a typical set of memes from the anti-Russia peanut gallery:
“Something is rotten in the state of Russia! (Fish rots from the head down.)”
“10 year old boy arrested in Moscow for reciting Hamlet without Putin’s approval: “…
“… A 10 year old boy looked suspicious since he was talking about some conspiracy and poisoning…” etc etc.
with the typical monolithic sameness, viciousness of intent, and unfairness characteristic of Westie propaganda. Which led some Russians to conclude that the entire incident on the Arbat was just a pre-planned provocation on the part of Western intelligence agencies.
Which seems unlikely, in this case, after reading more about it — I think this is just an incident of a financially struggling family sending their kid out to beg in the streets — but is not exactly a paranoid delusion either, given the fact that Westies do, quite frequently, interfere in the workings of Russian society, for their own nefarious purposes.
And Westies are no angels either, when it comes to the relationship between Police and Youth. In the United States, the “Black Lives Matter” movement came about when incidents of police brutality against African-American youth became too egregious to ignore any more. And we are not talking about mere detentions here, or cops breaking up poetry slams, we are talking about actual killings, cops discharging their weapons, and killing youths. Each individual incident is complex and can be read in more than one way; yet if Russians were the vicious slanderers that the Westies have proved to be, completely lacking in any sense of good will or common decency and wont to poke their noses into the business of other people in order to defame them — well, then they could make hay out of any one of hundreds of incidents occurring just about every day, in the mean streets of America. And maybe they should: I have always been a proponent of the tit-for-tat gambit in any game or war, including the propaganda war.
Restraints And Holds Involving Children
Forget about the police for a second. Let us turn to the sphere of the Healers: Medicine. In the United States, the use of restraints, holds and seclusion is highly regulated, especially when used on children. This piece gives some information about the types of restraints that may be used in a hospital setting. Regulatory agencies monitor hospitals and make them account for every use of a restraint or hold on a child. Technically, Restraints, Holds, and Seclusion are never to be used on a child without an explicit order from a Doctor.
That’s in the ideal world. In the real world, the situation is very different, as numerous reports coming out of the American medical system testify. As the health care system collapses before our very eyes, there is a veritable epidemic of Restraining, Holding (not in a good way), and Secluding children. Children who are sick, sometimes mentally ill, and often unruly. Restraints are applied “off the books”, without a Doctor’s order. Nurses and techs do what they can — they are on the whole very loving, caring people, but they are understaffed and simply cannot deal with the patient load that is dumped on them. Factor in an apparent epidemic of autistic children, and also an inner-city setting where many children suffer from congenital diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, which can also influence behavior. The result? Children in and out of restraints, often undocumented, and sometimes unmonitored for long periods of time.
“While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. It’s not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to ‘dear, kind God’! It’s not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony… “
(Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov)
Officer Khabarov Continues…
Let us return to our much less upsetting story about Young Hamlet, who was NOT put in the famous “4-point hold” during his adventures with the Moscow police. Where we left off, we were up to
Question #4: Should they have taken this woman along with them to the station? As the boy’s supervising adult? Granted that she lied to the police, but she did mention that she was an “acquaintance”.
Khabarov: No. It doesn’t really matter what she said. Now, if the police had been able to reach the [boy’s] father on the phone, and if he had confirmed that, yes, he had entrusted his child to this acquaintance, then, yes. Now, even if the boy himself had affirmed, Yep, that’s my Auntie Sveta, her and Papa let me go out here, they still would not have believed him (necessarily). “Auntie Sveta”, for all they knew, was keeping the child hostage.
Question #5: Reading poetry on the street corner, is this anti-social behavior?
Khabarov: If a child is reading poetry for money, then this is begging. And according to the legal codex — yes, that is anti-social behavior. The Declaration of Rights of Children also specifies: The child must be protected from any form of exploitation, he should not be put to any kind of work which is harmful to his physical, mental, or moral development. What kind of good can possibly come to a 9-year-old boy begging money from passers-by? In my opinion, there is every foundation to charge the father with Article 151, “The soliciting of a minor to perform anti-social acts”. Which is punishable by up to 5 years in a penal colony.
Question #6: When may physical force be applied to a youngster?
Khabarov: Police law does not distinguish in this case, between children and adults. It says in Article 20 that one may apply physical force if it is not possible otherwise to complete one’s professional duties. To prevent a crime from being committed, to deliver someone to the station, to stop a rowdy person who is hindering the lawful work of the police. Exactly the situation that we see on the Arbat. Except that I would not go so far as to say that “physical force” was applied. The boy was grabbed by his collar and led to the police vehicle. What else were they to do, since he wouldn’t go voluntarily? It’s even more dangerous to drag somebody by the arm, he could pull loose and dislocate his arm, he could get bruises on his wrist. Dragging him by the collar, is the safest and least painful [type of hold]. I myself used that method [many times] when dealing with homeless children.
Question #7: Why did the police [subsequently] apologize [to the family]?
Khabarov: Because the policemen made the child cry. And I think they absolutely did the right thing to apologize. It’s true that the boy didn’t suffer any harm — he is alive and well — thank God! But the actions [of the officers] made him cry. You know the Dostoevsky quote — about the tears of a child?
Question #8: Is somebody supposed to be with a child during an interview at the police station? A psychologist? A representative of Childrens Services?
Khabarov: Within the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, an inspector of the Juvenile Branch is authorized to communicate with the child — he is specially trained for that task. The presence of psychologists or others is not required. [At our station] we have such an inspector, everything is done by the book. Now as for the Children’s Services — the police are obliged to report to them about an unsupervised child only if, in the course of three hours, they are not able to locate the parents or legal guardians. Or if it turns out that there is a potential danger to the child within the family: abuse, poor living conditions, etc. In such cases it might be decided to place the child temporarily, for example, in a hospital. And, if the conditions are such, even to take him away from his family. But that’s another situation altogether.
Question #9: If, when all is said and done, it turns out that the police violated their own rules, then how will they be punished?
Khabarov: There was only one violation here, as I already mentioned — that they did not take the rowdy woman with them to the station. And I wouldn’t even call that a violation, just an oversight. Based on that, the officers could possibly be reprimanded by their superiors. Perhaps given a warning. There’s not enough here to fire them. And it is mandatory to discuss and analyze this incident at the general meetings with all the inspectors of the juvenile and patrol divisions. As a learning moment.
Question #10: Does the father of this boy have the right to file a law suit against the police on the grounds of police brutality; and demand compensation for pain and suffering?
Khabarov: Every citizen has the right to file a suit against the police. But in regards to this incident I highly doubt that he will get any satisfaction for his claim of police brutality. As for the pain and suffering — well, there is still that issue of the tears of a child. So, let him try if he wishes. The ways of Femida [Lady Justice] can be mysterious.