NGO opposes Law on Vagrancy


Nochlezhka (Night Shelter) opposes Law on Vagrancy 

Today the regional charity, Night Shelter, addressed an open letter to the prime minister of the Russian Federation (RF) Mikhail Fradkov, about the unacceptability in Russia of the Law on Vagrancy. 'We are sure that the law making homeless people liable to criminal prosecution simply for lack of being registered for a residence permit will not solve the problems', said Maxim Yegorv, the Chairperson of Night Shelter, at a press conference which took place in St Petersburg. 

According to Yegorov, in a Russia where more than one set of statistics puts the number of homeless people at about five million, there is no unitary aid programme and not even a legal definition of what constitutes a homeless person. The letter to Mr Fradkov states in particular: 'The fact of the matter is that we are talking about the introduction of criminal liability for not having a permit for permanent or temporary residence, which is contrary to the provisions of section 2 , article 3, of the RF Law on 'The Right of Citizens of the RF to Freedom of Movement and Choice of Temporary or Permanent Residence within the Borders of the RF '.

According to the information held by Night Shelter, about 8,000 homeless people live permanently on the streets of St Petersburg alone whilst there are reckoned to be no less than 54,000 living in the town without being registered as having a residence permit. Furthermore the night shelters are reckoned to have only 250 beds which are again accessible only by people already being registered in St Petersburg. The problems of accommodating homeless families, homeless people, and those infected with AIDs, hepatitus and tuberculosis are not being resolved.

According to the Public Health Committee of St Petersburg Municipality 120 of the permanent beds in the town are occupied by homeless people for whom there is no alternative accommodation to which they can be discharged. Mr Yegorov recalled a case where in freezing winter conditions an ambulance brought a homeless person suffering from frostbite to the Dzhanelidze Scientific Research Institute (for special medical attention). The doctors in Reception there ejected him on to the street. He walked many kilometres on frostbitten legs to reach Night Shelter and died shortly afterwards. Yegorov Maxim (Night Shelter) –


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