BLAGOVESHCHENSK, May 8 (RIA Novosti) – A couple living in a large barrel-shaped fuel tank have been stripped of the parental rights to their ten-month-old child, local prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The girl’s parents have been nicknamed “the Diogeneses” by the media, after the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope who reportedly slept in a large ceramic wine jar.
“The family lives in an industrial facility in the city of Blagoveshchensk, in a metal tank of about 12 square meters [129 square feet]. This so-called living space has no utilities; [the parents] have laid electricity lines themselves and installed an improvised stove,” the Amur Region prosecutor's office said in a statement. “Such living conditions were recognized as dangerous for a child.”
Late last year, regional child welfare authorities reportedly removed the girl, born in July 2012, from the custody of her parents and requested a local court to deprive them of their parental rights, saying the conditions they lived in were unfit for raising a child.
The court ruled in favor of the welfare authorities on January 31, 2013, and the regional court’s judicial collegium for civil cases overturned the parents’ appeal against the ruling on Wednesday.
It was established in court that both parents were registered with the local psychiatric services and suffer from personality disorders.
“The girl’s parents were invited to move to a family shelter with their child, but they firmly rejected the proposal. The girl’s father said instead that he was set to buy two more fuel tanks so that there would be more space for them to live in,” prosecutors said.
The Amur.info local news portal gives a picture that differs from the official report. According to the portal, the couple had to move to the fuel tank after the man’s house was destroyed in a fire and the woman "lost ownership of her apartment as a result of fraud.”
“A home can be round, square, triangular, hexagonal – whatever. It doesn’t matter, it is still a home. It has everything we need: gas, electricity… There is no flush toilet, but lots of people manage to survive without that in the countryside,” Amur.info cited the girl’s father, Anatoly Manayev, as saying.
According to the report, the family home is equipped with modern appliances, such as a laptop and a plasma TV, and even has double glazed windows.
Manayev told reporters that his wife had refused to move to temporary housing offered by a local charity organization because he would not have been allowed to stay with the family.