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Russia's Lost Children

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    Russia's Lost Children

    Russia's Lost Children
    The mysterious deaths of five schoolboys in Siberia cast a macabre light on the nation's many youths who are brutalized or go missing.

    By Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer

    KRASNOYARSK, Russia - Every day, Oksana Korshunova drives to the 9-foot-deep sewage pipe about a mile from her house. She squats on the rim and stares into the charred hole, straining to imagine how her son, Maxim, got down there and what happened to him before he did.

    She has gone over it day and night for weeks, a hideous loop of film that keeps replaying in the back of her brain.


    The 11-year-old came home from school, then dashed out to play with his friend Sasha from downstairs. It was 4 p.m., possibly 4:30, on April 16. How many times had Korshunova watched absently as her only son shuffled out the door? Listened to the boys' shouts and giggles filtering up through an open window, then dwindling into the distance as they picked up reinforcements and went over to the schoolyard to swing?

    That evening, when Maxim didn't come home for dinner, Korshunova went down to the courtyard, blinking into the empty dusk. She wasn't alone. Sasha's parents, Larisa and Pyotr Lavrenov, came down about the same time. Then the parents of Safar Aliyev, Galash Mamedgasanov and Dmitry Makarov walked up. None of the five boys had returned that evening.

    The parents alerted the neighbors and split up the work. They looked through all the neighboring courtyards, went up to the school, fanned out into the nearby junkyards and industrial plants. Three days later, police joined the search, making their way up to the river, even sending motorboats out to deserted islands.

    Wow. I had no idea. What a terribly depressing story.