The Disabled in Russia in the 1990s

  • Ethel Dunn


Relatively little is known about the disabled in Russia, although more information is available now than when it was thought that talking about the disabled or showing pictures of them was as taboo as talking about train wrecks or natural disasters. The situation began to change in the early 1990s as mass-circulation newspapers began to publish photo and other types of stories about the disabled, but discussions of problems the disabled faced were still rare, except in the pages of Sotsial’noe obespechenie, a journal supported by the Russian Ministry of Social Protection. More recently, some information appears fairly regularly in the popular press. Ogonëk, a mass-circulation magazine, has in the last few years published a number of sympathetic depictions of the disabled,1 including a discussion of terminally ill cancer patients.2 Izvestiia reported as news in 1998 that in Artem, a city in the maritime region, several dozen blind people and children were picketing and living in tents in front of the city’s administrative offices, to protest the fact that their dormitory, built in 1957, has neither lights, nor plumbing, nor water.3 There are quite a few stories dealing with participation by the disabled in various sports, with the theme generally that such participation returns the individual to life.4


Cerebral Palsy Disable People Social Protection Disable Child High Educational Institution 
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  1. 8.
    T. A. Dobrovol’skaia and N. B. Shabalina, “Sotsial’no-psikhologicheskie osobennosti vzaimootnoshenii invalidov i zdorovykh,” Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia no. 1 (1993): 62–67.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    L. L. Grishina, a professor at the Central Institute of Examination of Labor and Organization of the Work of the Disabled (TsIETIN) under the Ministry of Social Protection, reported that there were 8.2 million disabled in 1991 (5.5 percent of the population). In 1992, the figure grew to 8.4 million (5.7 percent of the population), 70 percent classified as Group I or Group II; 17 percent were young people (1.5 million) and 60 percent were elderly (5 million). See Sotsial’noe obespechenie, no. 5 (1994): 19. Under the Soviet system Groups I and II (severely disabled and at present usually considered unable to work) did work when positions could be found for them. For more details, see Stephen P. Dunn and Ethel Dunn, “Everyday Life of the Disabled in the USSR,” in The Disabled in the Soviet Union, eds. McCagg and Siegelbaum (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989), 227–228.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Meditsinskoe obsluzhivanie naseleniia Rossiiskoi Federatsii v 1993 godu (Moscow: 1994), 123–134.Google Scholar
  4. 46.
    M. A. Pozdniakova, et al., “Mediko-sotsial’naia kharakteristika osobennostei uslovii i obraza zhizni detei-invalidov,” Zdravookhranenie Rossissskoi Federatsii, no. 4 (1998): 46–48.Google Scholar
  5. 49.
    T. A. Dobrovol’skaia and N. B. Shabalina, “Invalidy: diskriminiruyemoe menshestvo?,” Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia, no. 5 (1992): 104.Google Scholar

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© Mark G. Field and Judyth L. Twigg 2000

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  • Ethel Dunn

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