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Russian Orphanages On Trial

series: European Journal

air date: 2/19/13 5:00 AM

Orphanages on Trial: Hundreds of thousands of children in Russia are growing up as orphans. Many of them are what are called "social orphans" - meaning they have at least one living parent, but have been relinquished by the latter to the state. Despite these figures, President Vladimir Putin has sharpened the laws governing adoption. In the past, many Russian orphans were adopted by couples from the US and Western Europea. Now American families are banned from Russian adoptions entirely. President Putin has said that the country can care for its own children. In reality, however, Russian orphanages have a reputation for abysmal conditions. Apart from a few showcase orphanages, the majority of children's homes are closed to public scrutiny. Reimagining the Banlieue: Desolate housing developments, torched cars and angry youth - these are the images that dominate media coverage of urban suburbs in France. Now architects have taken their hand to a Parisian banlieue in a regeneration program that aims to revitalize the troubled district. Champigny-sur-Marne, south of Paris, is known as a socially disadvantaged area. Many of its residents are immigrants, and many are unemployed. The town is blanketed with tracts of unattractive pre-fab housing. Now a multi-million euro project is building new single-family houses - and in an especially unusual move, they're being built directly on top of the prefabricated units. The goal is to create dwellings that will breathe fresh life into the community. A life spent in hiding: Nearly a century after the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, an increasing number of Turks of Armenian heritage are acknowledging their roots. Out of fear of discrimination, many survivors had converted to Islam and adopted Turkish names. While a number of countries say the massacres constituted genocide, Turkey still rejects the term. The government has taken steps towards rapprochement with Christian communities, however, such as returning many properties confiscated over past decades - among them properties owned by Armenians. Moves such as these have encouraged people to acknowledge their Armenian heritage - including in eastern Anatolia, the region which was once home to a large Armenian population. Prison Island of Gorgona: Series: "Small Worlds" Part 5 - Most former prison islands today are museums. One exception is the penal colony on Gorgona. Gorgona Prison has been in existence since 1869. Those behind bars today include men convicted of robbery and manslaughter - who are now being trained for work in the farming sector, animal husbandry and winemaking. Anyone trying to approach the island unannounced will be turned back by the police. On visiting day convicts are allowed to meet friends and family at the island's sole bar, which then doubles as a pizzeria.

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