On Friday, September 9, the Kremlin officially dismissed Children’s Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov, who has been under fire since asking survivors of а deadly boating accident in June, “How was the swim?” Astakhov is best (or perhaps worst) remembered for promoting a law that bans Americans from adopting Russian children, later dubbed the “Dima Yakovlev Law,” in response to American sanctions against officials implicated in the murder of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Astakhov's replacement, Anna Kuznetsova, who started work on Friday, is already taking heat for comments she made back in 2009 seemingly endorsing “Telegony,” a pseudo-scientific theory holding that children can inherit traits from a mother's previous sexual partners.
Kuznetsova seemed on the surface to be a solid, if unremarkable pick for the position: she was previously the director of Pokrov, a Penza-based charity that supports “families, motherhood, and children,” and a regional representative for the “Mothers of Russia” movement. Unlike Astakhov, who had never worked on children's rights issues until being tapped for his post in 2009, Kuznetsova has years of experience working with children, and—until recently—had kept a low profile.
And then the Internet found out about Telegony. As has been widely reported in Russian language press, Kuznetsov said in a 2009 interview:
Основываясь на сравнительно новой науке Телегонии, можно говорить о том, что клетки матки обладают информационно-волновой памятью. Поэтому эти клетки запоминают все, что в них произошло. Допустим, если у женщины было несколько партнеров, то велика вероятность рождения ослабленного ребенка из-за смешения информации. Особое влияние данный факт оказывает на нравственную основу будущего ребенка. Аборт, в свою очередь, также является серьезным потрясением для уже желанного малыша, поскольку клетки запоминают страх плода перед абортом, запоминают смерть
Based on the relatively new science of Telegony, we can say that uterine cells have information-wave memory. Therefore these cells remember everything. So, if a woman has multiple partners, there is a high probability that the child will be weak because of the mixing of information. This has a particular influence on the moral foundations of an unborn child. Abortion is also a serious shock to future children, because the [uterine] cells remember the fear of the fetus before the abortion—they remember death.
Twitter users have been merciless in response.
Когда в следующий раз вы будете ржать и гоготать над фразой “я боюсь того, что будет еще хуже”, вспомните про сторонников телегонии.
— Митя Алешковский (@aleshru) September 9, 2016
The next time you're about to laugh and cackle at the phrase “I'm worried it'll get even worse,” remember that some people believe in Telegony.
Новая наука Телегония и её адепты Телепузики.
— Санкционный фрукт (@Buddy_Judge) September 9, 2016
The new science of Telegony and its Teletubby followers.
В Штатах презентуют новый iPhone, а у нас телегония и матка с волновой памятью..
— Dane Rider (18+) (@Dane_Rider) September 9, 2016
In the US, they get a new iPhone, and all we get is a uterus with wave memory.
Новая уполномоченная по правам детей Анна Кузнецова – мать 6 детей, православная, жена священника – за что такая страшная кара либералам!?!
— Андрей Малосолов (@malosolov) September 9, 2016
The new ombudsperson for the rights of children, Anna Kuznetsova – mother of 6, orthodox, wife of a priest – what did liberals do to deserve this?
But the criticism hasn't stopped there. Kusnetsova is the wife of a Russian Orthodox priest and a mother of six. Sadly, this has led some to question her ability to do her job: Konstantin Dolinin, the head of the children's organization “Parents’ Meeting,” told news website URA.ru, “I don't really understand how a mother of six children will be able to work this kind of job. What is she going to do with the children? Who is going to take care of them?”
Others have been more sympathetic. As Ekaterina Vinokurova, a journalist for Yekaterinburg news website Znak.ru, wrote on Facebook today, “The wife of a priest should have the right to work in any profession, and to stigmatize her for this… I think is a big flaw… In general, Kuznetsova has a unique chance to show everyone normal, good Russian Orthodoxy, which has nothing to do with the ‘Orthodox satanism’ that has become fashionable among ‘religious activists.'”