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11 Jul, 2007 22:43

WW2 veteran choosing between bad and worse housing

It is 64 years since the Battle of Kursk – one of the pivotal victories of the Second World War, where the Soviet Union beat the German army in the biggest tank battle ever fought. Many of the veterans who fought are now in poor health and accu

Mikhail Roshkov is one of the ‘lucky’ ones. In August he will be given a new flat but until he moves in he will have to put up with his current home. Six people – three generations of the same family – live in 17 square metres. Mikhail rarely gets out of bed. And even when he does he can't go outside as his wheelchair doesn’t fit down the corridor so Mikhail cannot go down the stairs.

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the battle of Kursk the local council promised to give him a new flat. That was four years ago. This year the city Kursk was given the special title of a “hero city” – and on victory day in May he received a plaque reading, “Here lives a veteran of the Great Patriotic War”.

A former railway workers hut with no electricity or gas and a 20-minute walk to the nearest shop. This is where he can expect to put his new plaque. The building is dangerous to live in but the head of the Kursk City Council, Vladimir Boldin, thinks Mikhail's housing problems are solved, saying they are renovating the flat now.

As Kursk remembers those who died here 64 years ago, Mikhail is waiting to move into his new house – which was occupied by squatters just little time ago.