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Disabled People Must Be Better Protected In Russia - Expert

MOSCOW. Feb 11 (Interfax) - Russia is at the bottom of a list of European countries in the level of disabled citizens' integration into society, said Roman Zhavoronkov, a representative of the International Monitoring of Disabled Persons' Rights project.

"Russia ranks tenth among the 14 countries monitored in the level of disabled citizens' integration into society, Zhavoronkov said while presenting a report on the state of disabled people in Europe as part of the project in Moscow on Monday.

Russia ranks tenth for a number of reasons, he said. "Russia has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, (adopted in December 2006, signed by over 120 countries and effective soon). About 200,000 children of school age do not receive education, and some 70% of disabled citizens of working age are not employed," he said.

"Finland, Britain, Greece and Spain are, for objective reasons, leaders in the extent of disabled persons' integration into society," he also said.

Although Russia has a law on social benefits for disabled persons, "regulatory acts are absent that would protect persons with disabilities from discrimination," Zhavoronkov said. "Of the 14 countries monitored, only Russia has not signed the UN convention," he said.

Disabled citizens make up 8% of Russia's population, he said.

In European countries, unemployment among disabled people ranged from 12% to 48%, although most countries have in place an employment policy for disabled people. In almost all countries surveyed, disabled persons have limited access to education and textbooks. Some countries, including Russia, have no systemic, independent and regular monitoring of disabled people's living standards," the expert said.

The rights of disabled persons are violated everywhere where polling stations are inaccessible to them, he said.

Only 5% of surface transport and not more than 20% of the social infrastructure are adapted to disabled persons. Persons with disabilities also experience shortages in medicines, he said.

Compared with the Soviet era, progress has been made in ensuring the rights of disabled citizens, he added.

Natalya Malysheva, an aide to the Federation Council speaker, said that "the signing of the UN convention is important as a sign of readiness to move to action."

"As far as I know, the positions have been dovetailed and the convention will be ratified soon," Malysheva said.