The Children of Leningradsky is an award-winning short documentary about children living in Leningradsky railway station in Moscow. Directed by Andrzej Celiński and Hanna Polak, the movie talks about the daily struggles of children living in extreme conditions: prostitution, threat of child molesters, smoking cigarettes, drinking vodka and sniffing glue to get high.
Moscow’s homeless dogs, who have learned how to use the trains to commute between various locations, have attracted international attention. Unfortunately, those children didn’t have that privilege until the documentary was made.
For foreigners, the darkest aspect of homeless children pictured in the documentary is sniffing glue. In Russia and former Soviet countries, sniffing gasoline and glue is a common wrongdoing. Some sources say it became popular when Russian ships limited the supply of alcohol to ship crews in the 1980’s, which made it popular to the wider public. Even though solvent glue is normally a legal product, the children inhale it using plastic bags held over the mouth or by breathing from a solvent-soaked rag or an open container. The effects range from an alcohol-like intoxication and intense euphoria to vivid hallucinations, depending on the substance and the dose. All that to relieve themselves from daily stress and poverty.
Most of the children living on the streets just want to be with their mum and dad. Unfortunately for most of parents alcohol is more important than their own flesh and blood.
The documentary closes with 13 year-old Misha saying:
God believes in people and helps them. He loves everyone, even bad people, not just Russians. He even loves Chechnyans. But most of all, He loves children.