New fines for discrimination against people with disabilities in Russia
Fines will now be levied against any provider that discriminates against people with disabilities. The Code on administrative breaches of the law has been amended to include the refusal to provide goods or services to any category of people. According to a report in Izvestia (сообщают «Известия»), the government now has the right to issue financial penalties of between 15,000 and 30,000 roubles to public officials and between 50,000 and 100,000 roubles to legal entities.
If a disabled person is denied the right to purchase a product or service on health grounds or an individual or an organisation refuses to offer the appropriate assistance, they will be liable for a fine.
By way of example, the authors of the new legislation (from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection) describe a situation where a person in a wheelchair cannot see the price of a product placed on the high shelf of a shop or a person suffering from Parkinson’s cannot examine the product. Under the amended law the shop staff are obliged to provide the necessary assistance or face a fine. The authors describe other more controversial situations, such as when travel companies refuse to provide transportation assistance to wheel-chair users on planes or in airports. There have also been instances where people with learning disabilities have been forced to leave a café or a restaurant because the owners believe that simply by being there they undermine the reputation of the business.
People who feel they have suffered discrimination may now seek redress by submitting a complaint to the Russian Consumer Rights body (Rospotrebnadzor) and asking for a fine to be issued to the company or individual concerned.
Speaking at a government meeting, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said, ‘In the past people have sometimes been dismissive of the concerns of people with disabilities, arguing that they are not willing to inconvenience themselves by meeting the additional needs of disabled customers. We need to be proactive in assisting disabled people; theirs request for help should not be ignored and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure disabled people receive the support they need and do not face discrimination. It is a sad state of affairs when we have to resort to legislation to help disabled people because giving the appropriate support is surely just a question of good manners. Unfortunately, though, we need this legislation to be able to rectify the situation.’