Never Underestimate the Value of an Education


researchok
#1
'Fagins' ran school for young thieves on Siberian island
By Andrew Osborn in St Petersburg
24 July 2004

news.independent.co.uk/europe...p?story=544114 (external - login to view)

Russian police have uncovered an Oliver Twist-style training camp for teenage thieves run by elderly criminals on a remote Siberian island which was once a haunt of the playwright Anton Chekhov.

The camp, on the island of Sakhalin near Japan, was masquerading as an innocent Soviet-style holiday experience for young people, complete with apparently wholesome camp fires, guitar strumming and improvement "lessons".

But the camp was anything but innocent. Police, who were tipped off about the camp's existence by an anonymous phone call, found dozens of trainee teenage thieves determined to make a successful life in crime with a little help from a couple of modern-day Fagins.

Thirty of the adolescents, who came from poor or broken homes, already had criminal records but wanted to fine-tune their skills. Police seized tents, dozens of field kitchens, a power generator and handwritten crime manuals which covered burglary, robbery and swindling in elaborate detail. One was dedicated to "dealing with the police" while another was devoted to "winning over your cell-mates" once behind bars.

The camp was on the outskirts of an obscure town called Uglegorsk and filled with "students" between 12 and 18.

Two "teachers" with extensive criminal records were instructing the camp's youths apparently for free in the hope of getting a slice of the young thieves' takings later on.

A police spokesman told the Russian service of the BBC: "Thieves who ran the camp obviously wanted to pass their knowledge on to the young: they were all close to retirement age, and in the Russian tradition, the younger criminals always share their takings with the veterans.

"Most of the students at the camp had chosen to take the criminal route long before classes started, anyway - it was just a matter of fine-tuning their skills." The criminal minds behind the training camp had gone to extraordinary lengths to make it look like an ordinary camping holiday.

"They really put a lot of effort into making the camp look as innocent as possible. And if you read the 'crime manuals' these people distributed, you would not even blink an eyelid - they were all written in the language of the underworld, in which usual Russian words always have a second meaning."

The authorities have said that they they were taken aback at how well organised the camp was and have not ruled out finding similar "schools" elsewhere in Russia.

The island of Sakhalin must have seemed like a perfect place to train tomorrow's generation of thieves. Sparsely populated with only 700,000 people, it is about as far from the capital as you can get.

The island has always been associated with crime, and has consistently had much higher crime rates than the rest of Russia. When Anton Chekhov visited the island in 1890, it housed a tsarist penal colony of 10,000 convicts which the playwright described in great detail in his book, unimaginatively named Sakhalin Island. In fact the island, despite its natural beauty, seems dogged by misfortune.

In 1983, the Soviet Union shot down the Korean civilian airliner KAL-007 over the island, leading to a Cold War stand-off and in 1995 a massive earthquake erupted on Sakhalin, killing about 2,000 people.

More recently, the oil giant Shell has become involved in a consortium building a pipeline in the island's vicinity which has infuriated environmentalists who claim it risks wiping out the last Asian grey whales.
 
galianomama
#2
Quote:

More recently, the oil giant Shell has become involved in a consortium building a pipeline in the island's vicinity which has infuriated environmentalists who claim it risks wiping out the last Asian grey whales.

As far as the whales go, we are facing the same situation on the westcoast, with oil drilling probably set to proceed within the next five years. Can't imagine what it will do to the endangered species here.

The rest of the article is pretty common stuff isn't it? don't wejust call it summer camp here?
 

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