Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Alex Cope, Agency: Central European News
A penniless Russian dad who hit the headlines for dumping his children at a Moscow airport now says he made a mistake and wants them back.
The story of the unemployed dad who abandoned his kids because he said he could no longer afford to support them went around the world.
The man and the two boys aged six and nine had been snapped on an escalator by CCTV cameras at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport shortly after they arrived, and later the boys were found abandoned with just rucksacks containing their birth certificates, but no father.
There was also a copy of a passport reportedly from the dad which identified him as 41-year-old Victor Gavrilov from the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Far East of the country.
There was also a note inside that read: “Please help my children. Please place them in a temporary shelter, because at the moment I have a very difficult financial situation. I’ll pick them up later. I ask that the children not be separated. The children’s documents are in the backpack. Sorry, but at the moment I have no other choice.”
He also requested that the boys be put into care and not given to their mother from whom he was separated.
Airport authorities handed the children over to police, and they were then moved to a hospital to be checked over and looked after.
Officials first managed to track down the mother Olga Pushkareva, whose age was not given, who had no idea what her husband had done.
She told police that her estranged husband had refused to allow her to see the children, adding: “He said won’t give me the kids as he can take care of them on his own.”
However, Irina Svyatkina, the head of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Guardianship Department confirmed that it appeared the mother had removed herself from the children’s lives and had started a new life without them.
She said: “Olga had not been involved in the children’s lives. It was only her parents who were seeing them from time to time.”
Reportedly Olga and Victor divorced a few years ago when a court gave custody over the boys to their father. It was also revealed that Olga is now pregnant and lives with another man while for the past few years it was Victor who was taking care of the kids.
His actions and abandoning his children stunned his former work colleagues, neighbours and teachers of the boys who had only good words to say about what a loving father he was.
He turned himself in at a police station in Bataysk where he said he had reportedly travelled to in order to try and find a job, and told officers he was very sorry for his actions.
Victor asked to be forgiven for leaving the kids alone in the airport. According to the man, he wanted to find a good job and provide them a better living, so he decided to leave them in a crowded place, knowing that there were many people and policemen around and his kids would be safe.
The man said: “I’d like to ask my two kids: Ivan and Vladimir to please forgive me. You are everything I have in my life, I love you very much. I showed weakness by leaving you in the airport because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to raise you on my own.
“I wanted to find a good job and then take you with me to never be apart in the future… I very much hope that we’ll get together soon. I love you very much, please wait for me.”
Elena Markovskaya, the senior assistant of the head of the Russian Investigative Committee in the city of Bataysk, Rostov Oblast, confirmed: “The man came to the police department on his own. He is being interrogated at the moment.”
Moscow Oblast Governor Andrei Vorobyov announced on Social media that he had visited the children in the hospital where they currently stay. The officials from the institution say the two are feeling good but the medics want to be sure so they are keeping them there for now.
Vorobyov published two photos showing him sitting at a table with the two children: Vladimir, 8, and his younger brother Ivan. The official said they loved their father very much. Vorobyov promised to find Gavrilov a job, and has arranged for the boys to go on a trip to an aquarium.
The father is being investigated under article 125 of the Criminal Code (“Abandonment”), which has a potential sentence of up to one year in prison.
The authorities have to find out why the family, in which everything was clearly falling apart, had not been under the care of social services.
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