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1 Jun, 2008 12:03

Children's rights take centre stage

Russia has joined nations across the world in marking International Children’s Day on June 1. The day is aimed at raising awareness of children's rights and to encourage governments to pass laws. A charity match was staged at Moscow's Locomotive stadium w

The home team were triumphant, winning the game 2-1. Even the former Russian international and FC Porto goalkeeper, Sergey Ovchinnikov, couldn’t help the Italians.

The money raised from the game, which is part of a nationwide initiative known as “Under the flag of kindness”, will help pay the medical bills of children in need of expensive operations.  

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also took part in the charity match.

“We are just helping attract more people to the stadium and thus to raise more money,” he said.

Vyacheslav Fetisov, the head of Federal Agency for Sport, said it was not a one-off event: “such matches have already raised money for many children for the last few years”, he said.

“And there are more and more matches like this throughout the country,” he added.

Over the past three years the project has raised more than $US 3 million, spread between 266 children.

“If you count the salaries of the staff who care for the child, the medicine, which is very expensive, then there is no money left for everyday things, especially if you consider that not every child recovers immediately,” said Sergey Gotye, Director of the Institute of Transplantology.  

It’s estimated that a quarter of all Russian children under 16 live in poverty.  And Children’s Day has always been given a high profile in the country, with lots of events organised to raise money for children in need.

The main idea of the day is to remind grown-ups of the importance of maintaining children’s rights. It was established almost 60 years ago with the aim of protecting children's rights and encouraging governments to pass laws.  

The only problem this year is Moscow’s weather, which remains stubbornly cold despite being the first day of summer.