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21 October 2004 -- An aid group says more than 30,000 children and teenagers go missing every year in Russia, and that at least 500,000 children are living on the country's streets.
Leonid Chekalin, who heads the organization Children are Russia's Future, gave the estimates at a news conference in Moscow late yesterday. He said 190 child-trafficking networks have been uncovered in the past five years.
Sergei Komkov, president of the Russian Fund for Education, blamed Russian politicians for addressing the problem of street kids only during election campaigns. He said government aid to help street kids this year has dropped by 15 to 20 percent.
Komkov said the majority of homeless youngsters in Russia are not orphans but have fled broken and violent homes.