Russia imposes fines for refusal to admit disabled people to cafes or aeroplanes
The Russian State Duma website reports that new amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences have been adopted after a single reading. According to these, the illegal denial of goods and services to disabled clients will incur administrative liability.
Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) reports that over 20,000 complaints are received annually from vulnerable consumers. Disabled people, including children, may be denied service in cafés or refused permission to board an aircraft because of their state of health, or if they are deemed too old. Reasons for such refusals are often linked to a company’s marketing policy or its image.
In 2012, Air Berlin refused to fly an entire delegation of wheelchair users. Last year, a teenager with his legs in plaster was not allowed to board a UTair plane, while in the town of Yelizovo, Kamchatka, a man with a guide dog was prevented from entering a café. In Krasnodar, a girl with Downs Syndrome was not permitted to ride a carousel in the park.
‘It is unacceptable that a wheelchair user, or the parents of a disabled child should be prohibited from entering a public place because a security guard doesn’t like the look of them or they don’t fit the image of a restaurant. Regrettably, such cases are quite common,’ chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, commented.
According to Volodin, public censure seldom elicits the desired outcome. ‘Fines will be far more effective in protecting people whose rights have been violated,’ he said.
The bill will allow for the prosecution of anyone in the sales and service sector who has acted in a discriminatory way towards vulnerable people and ‘shown rudeness or any other form of discrimination towards vulnerable citizens, and expressed this by refusing access to goods (services/work) on the same terms as other citizens,’ the authors of the amendments to the existing Code note. Officials are likely to be fined 15,000 – 30,000 roubles, while legal entities can expect fines of 50,000 – 100,000 roubles.