A Big Moscow Clergy Family
> Moscow Timesis
> Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002
> 16 Children Keep This Mother Busy
> By Yevgenia Borisova
> Staff Writer
> To say Yelena Malevich has her hands full would be an understatement. The
> 45-year-old wife of an Orthodox priest has 16 children and is already the
> grandmother of five.
> "I worry so much for every single one of them. Happiness is when everyone
> at home and nothing bad happens to them," Malevich said, sitting on acouch
> in her living room, her hands folded across her bulging belly. ChildrenVeshnyaki
> raced in and out of the room, each trying to ask her something.
> Malevich, whose husband, Father Boris Malevich, is a priest at the
> Orthodox Church, is the mother of one of only three families with 16the
> children in Moscow -- and there are no bigger families, according to city
> Having a large family was revered in Soviet times, and mothers with more
> than four children are still awarded medals and financial support from
> But generous state subsidies are long gone, and the number of big
> is rapidly dropping, said Lyubov Ishchuk of City Hall's family and youthhas
> committee. The number of families in Moscow with three or more children
> fallen from 42,000 a decade ago to 19,000, she said. Only 90 familieshave
> more than 10 children.control.
> As devout Orthodox Christians, the Malevichs don't practice birth
> "God knows how many children each woman must have," Yelena Malevich said,will
> heaving a sigh. "It is never too many or too few. Some people, like us,
> get more. Some will not have any. There will be no overpopulation on thebrings
> But there will always seem to be a lack of money. Malevich's husband
> home 2,000 rubles ($62) per month from his job at the church. The federalthe
> government provides 70 rubles per month for each child under 16, while
> city of Moscow provides 120 rubles per child. To earn extra money, Borisis
> Malevich blesses apartments and offices and conducts funeral services. He
> rarely at home.money,
> Yelena Malevich's father, a church painter, sometimes helps out with
> and her other relatives give preserves. Sometimes the family getsassistance
> from the church.6,
> "We have about 20 rubles per person per day for food," Malevich said.
> She and her husband live with 12 children -- Slava, 2, Georgy 5, Galya,
> Dima, 9, Ilya, 12, Khristina, 13, Nadya, 14, Kirill, 16, Olga, 19,Marusya,
> 21, Nastya, 22 -- in three connected apartments in a multilevel buildingon
> Novokosinskaya Ulitsa, a half-hour drive east of the remote Vykhino metroare
> Their two oldest sons, Alexei, 26, and Filipp, 25, who are also priests,
> share a two-room apartment with their wives and five sons in the same
> The four apartments cover 170 square meters.
> Olga, Marusya and Nastya also work, while sons Gleb, 17, and Andrei, 18,
> at a seminary studying to be priests.large
> Food is a constant struggle. Several large aluminum saucepans in the
> kitchen get filled and emptied at least three times a day as Yelena whipsof
> batches of rice, millet, buckwheat porridge, pasta, borshch and soup.Twice
> a week the family eats meat -- usually cutlets, sausages or pelmeni.said.
> Potatoes are a rarity because they are too expensive, Yelena Malevich
> Cooking takes most of her time, and the fridge usually hovers on empty.steaming
> "Mom, what can I have with my tea?" Khristina said, pulling her mother's
> sleeve in one of several attempts to get her attention during this
> Malevich was strict. "Just you be quiet," she said. "I am busy now."
> But in a few minutes, she moved to the kitchen and produced a dry waffle
> cake from somewhere.
> Her older daughters came home from work and were handed plates of
> rice, meatballs and pickled cabbage. The crowd of smaller children heardthe
> clanging of the dishes and immediately rushed to the kitchen. The tinyones
> climbed onto their older sisters' shoulders to grab food off their platessweet
> and snatch pieces of the waffle cake.
> Malevich laughed. "When I was small, I was the only child, and we kept
> things in a bowl. Here, anything tasty disappears in a moment."as
> Between their nibbling, the smaller children played excitedly, sometimes
> looking like a huge shouting knot of bodies rolling from one room to
> "Of course, I sometimes get tired of this noise," said Marusya, who works
> a nurse in a city hospital. "But it is good, too. You always have someoneto
> talk to, to go out with and to get help from."problems,"
> A big family is a sort of a world in itself, said Yevgenia Chernyshova, a
> mother of 10 children and head of the multi-children families section in
> City Hall's family and youth committee.
> "A big family is a world where you can escape from all of life's
> she said. "It offers compensation mechanisms within itself. For example,for
> every person who comes home in a bad mood, there will be someone who isfixing
> In the Malevich household, the males do all the handiwork, including
> anything that breaks, painting walls and putting up wallpaper. The familyher
> has two televisions, a microwave and a washing machine.
> Every Saturday, the family cleans the apartment, and everyone has his or
> own job to do. Every child except the tiny ones does his or her ownironing.
> Everyone goes to church at least once a week.suitors.
> Malevich said her husband sometimes spanks the children "when they do
> something wrong." But she could not recall the last time a child had been
> spanked and the reason for the punishment.
> One of her biggest worries are her eldest daughters. Olga, Marusya and
> Nastya have already reached marriage age, but there are no eligible
> The girls fit into the standards of a priest's family, but they aredaughter,
> exceptional by modern Moscow standards: They do not smoke, drink or use
> makeup. Sex outside of marriage is unthinkable.
> The eldest brothers met their wives in church. One was a priest's
> while the other cleaned the church building.monk,"
> "I would like to be married to a priest," Marusya said. "They marry only
> once. They are loyal to you and reliable. But where can I meet one?"
> "To become a priest, a seminary graduate must be either married or a
> Malevich said. "But those who study like my sons are effectively lockedin
> the seminary. There is little chance even to get acquainted with them."