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27 May, 2009 07:44

Russian cities poorly equipped for disabled

Bureaucracy can be a big enough challenge in Russia, even if you're able-bodied, but if you're living with a disability and the nearest form of transport is far away, dealing with it can become a nightmare.

There are quite a few places for the disabled in Russia where they can learn to draw, visit museums, study literature and which use art to help them live a normal life. Access to these centers, however, is limited, since most Russian cities are poorly equipped for the disabled to be able to live in comfort.

Those disabled who are orphans can expect to get a flat for free from the state, but certain problems remain.

“The flat itself is okay, but it's just too far away from amenities – the metro and medical centers. My girlfriend doesn't have legs, I don't have hands – it's just impossible,” says disabled Fyodor Sudarchikov.

The block where Fyodor and his girlfriend Anna live was built for the victims of the Chernobyl disaster, like Fyodor, and survivors of the Leningrad blockade, but its location defeats the objective of improving their lives.

“The nearest bus stop there is over a half-an hour's walk away. We're both disabled… To swap the flat we'll need to run around the city gathering papers! It's going to be really hard,” said Anna Matyushko.

There are more than twelve million people in Russia living with disabilities, and the figure is showing no signs of decreasing.