Education International
Education International

Russia: boating tragedy the result of negligence and recklessness on multiple levels

published 22 June 2016 updated 27 June 2016

In the aftermath of a boating accident which left 14 disadvantaged children dead during an outing at a summer camp, investigators are placing blame on the government’s cost-cutting measures that led to the tragic events

Although the accident, which has sent shockwaves across Russia, was caused by harsh weather conditions, it has become quickly evident that it could have been prevented. The government is facing criticism that it ignored concerns of the camp’s practices in an attempt to save money.

Five people, including three camp instructors, the owner and a deputy, have been detained by police for criminal negligence and recklessness. The 14 children who lost their lives, between the ages of 12-15, were among a group of 47 that ventured out onto the lake in conditions unfit for boating. Untrained staff took the group out into strong winds and large waves on Lake Syamozero in Russia’s northern Karelia region, despite concerns raised by the children.

Some of the children thrown into the freezing waters were able to swim to shore, but 14 were not.

Although the camp has gained a bad reputation among many parents, Moscow City Hall still awarded a contract to the camp as part of an initiative to send children from disadvantaged backgrounds and orphans on summer vacation. According to reports, children were allowed to smoke and drink alcohol. Complaints to the government went unanswered.

“This is what happens when private companies are allowed to pursue their profit motives without adhering to the rules and are able to operate without proper oversight,” said Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and next kin of the children lost in this senseless act.”

The camp has been ordered closed by the government.