Russia’s report on implementation of UN disability convention

Ministry of Labour prepares its first Report at the UN on Russia’s implementation of the conditions set forth by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Moscow, 19.08.2014

The Russian Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs has prepared the country’s first Report at the UN about the work done to bring Russian legislation into line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the establishment of other provisions for an accessible environment. Representatives from the public organisations which appealed for the preparation of this report believe that it lacks ‘real feeling’, focus on the current problems, and a state plan for their resolution.

Russia ratified the Convention in 2012. Its realisation would assume provision of conditions for overcoming impaired ability and the creation of equal opportunities for participation in everyday life for disabled people. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs monitored the provisions of the UN Convention, and on the basis of the results prepared the 2012-14 report. The document explains which legislative acts have been implemented for the social protection of the disabled, what they do, how they realise the state programme for an ‘Accessible Environment’. It cites data about the number of disabled people in Russia and the structure of disability according to various indicators. The report was sent to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it should be put before the UN Committee by 25 September 2014.

Monitoring disability and the implementation of the Convention in the regions, the periphery, in the country in general will be organised on an ongoing basis, says the Russian Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Maxim Topilin. According to him, this requires development of new area-specific programmes and forms of statistical observation, as well as the creation of a register of disabled people at federal level.

As ministry officials have noted, while the report was being prepared the suggestions and comments of experts, social organisations, various ministries and departments were taken into account, and the conclusions of the UN conference were used in conjunction with representatives of the Ministry for Labour.

Most notably, specialists from the Russian Society of Deaf People (VOG) took part in the work on the report.

‘From the very first stages, we appealed for the drawing up of an item-by-item appraisal of conformity to the Convention’s legislation where it concerns the hearing impaired. A minor part of our appraisals were reflected in the report in one form or another,’ explained the head of the department for social programmes and projects in the Administration for Social Policy and Rehabilitation at the Russian Society of Deaf People, Maxim Larionov. He highlighted that from their point of view, the report lacked ‘the most important element – evidence of current, significant issues and their scope. For example, there are about 6,000 too few translators of Russian sign language. When the government includes such information, then the next step will be to suggest strategies for resolving the problems expressed in the report,’ says Larionov.

In VOG’s opinion, the report also failed to deal with the problem of limited access for deaf people to the emergency services and the question of quality control in Russian sign language translation in court.

‘We wanted the report to reflect three positions: current successes; current problems (the most significant ones for each disability); and a policy strategy and actions for the elimination of these problems,’ remarked Maxim Larionov.

The director of employment programmes for the disabled at Perspektiva, the Russian Disability NGO, Mikhail Novikov believes that, even though the Ministry for Labour report represents an indisputable interest, like the majority of state documents, it lacks ‘real feeling’.

‘There is a lot of information on laws, state programmes, the allocation of funds. Perspektiva gave its recommendations, showing areas for development. How the lives of disabled people improve based on this data, for example, with regards to an accessible environment, employment and an inclusive education. We would like the report to be more “real”’, to include case studies and stories showing how to improve the lives of actual people,’ says Mikhail Novikov.

He suggests that many experts and social organisations have also noticed that the report does not dedicate enough attention to plans, nor set out next steps for the government or society for the improvement of disabled people’s lives. ‘The report is presented in a rather optimistic light, but we ourselves know that in real life, all is not so well that we may now stop,’ remarked an employee from Perspektiva.

The project for the report ‘On the measures taken to realise the obligations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the two years since its introduction to the Russian Federation’ is to be discussed by the President’s Commission for the Affairs of Disabled People. The full text of the document (in Russian) can be found on the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs’ website.

By Yulia Vyatkina

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