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Russia September 25, 2007
 
A Case Study Of A Disabled Person
By Yasha Levine Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 2
 

He now lives in care home for the mentally retarded on the southern outskirts of Moscow. And his case is not an exception. According to Evgeny, the majority of the 500 people living in his wing of the care home are not mentally retarded. In fact, many have relatively minor birth defects but had the misfortune of being abandoned by their parents. Now, they had no way of getting out of that system, and most wouldn't even know what to do if they did.

Although Evgeny can now get around on crutches, he can't get a job or even petition the government for his own apartment. Illiterate people are not considered to be fit for independent living. His monthly pension amounts to 1,300 rubles, 75% of which is deducted by his care home for extras such as yogurt and cookies. With only 350 rubles a month left to spend, he and just about every other person in his home make money any way they can. And the administration is keen on exploiting that need. According to Evgeny, for about five years, his care home paid them to make champagne bottle caps instead of going out for their afternoon activities. And even then they were exploited. They'd get 15 rubles for a sack, a job that a week's worth of work.

"At first they said they'd pay us 150 rubles per sack to get us excited, but paid us only 15. They said that it was because of tax deductions. But not everyone there is stupid enough to believe that, so most people stopped doing the work," said Evgeny.

Is this changing? You probably won't believe it, but there is some progress. With all the petro dollars flowing into Russia, Perspektiva says there's been a noticeable improvement for the lives of the disabled. Even Evgeny says that the current conditions in the internats are at least twice as good as they used to be. "They actually have psychiatrists and tutors now. And you can't even compare the food today to what we once ate," he said.

When I asked my Soviet-emigre father about his own recollections of the disabled, he told me, "When you don't have even the bare necessities for life and there's a deficit of everything, no one cares about other people, especially not the disabled."

Now that Russia is getting richer, the hope is that more of that will trickle down to those who need it most.


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Levine
Browse author
Yasha Levine is an editor at The eXile. You can contact him at yasha@exile.ru
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