"People who have seen them running wild in Russia say that the sight is not a pleasant one"

In Russia during the 1920s, a combination of factors (war, revolution, poverty and famine) meant that many children were left orphaned or abandoned, leading to a social problem known in Russian as besprizornost. Many of these children roamed the cities and countryside, singly or in gangs, and were known as besprizorni (sometimes besprizorniki).