Staunton, Sept. 4 – Among the residents of Russia whose voice is least often heard are the homeless, the large number of people who in Moscow cluster around the city’s railway stations because they have nowhere else to go. But a journalist has asked their views, and Duma candidates are paying attention, at least during this election campaign.
Aleksey Krasovsky, a DailyStorm journalist, spoke with a number of homeless men in Moscow about what issues were most agitating them and what changes in government policy they would most like to see changed. He then communicated this to leaders of the systemic parties.
The statements of the homeless and the reactions of the politicians are equally interesting and instructive, the journalist suggests (dailystorm.ru/vlast/nizy-verham-bezdomnye-rasskazali-deputatam-o-realnyh-problemah-naroda-a-te-im-otvetili).
Many of the homeless are older men and not surprisingly they would like to see the lower pension age restored, but they also want another change: pensions, they say, should be based on how many years someone has worked rather than on where. People in Irkutsk and in Moscow who’ve worked the same number of years should get the same payments.
Just Russia and KPRF leaders said they agreed and welcomed this sign of interest in social justice among those who are often ignored by society and the government.
The homeless men also said they would like to see more jobs and at higher wages. Few of them want to drink but do because they can’t find work. If the authorities promoted more and better-paying jobs, the homeless would be able to escape from their plight and rejoin society, some of them say.
Duma deputies agree, although they say the process of reclaiming the lives of many of those who have long been on the streets is inevitably going to be an expensive proposition.
That the homeless should raise those two issues is perhaps no surprise, but they raised a number of others, Krasovsky reports. Several of the homeless favor ending the draft and having an all-volunteer army, many are upset that Russian athletes can’t compete abroad under the Russian flag, and some would like to see Lenin hauled out of the mausoleum and buried.
Reactions to these ideas, not surprisingly, followed party lines. But what was most striking, the journalist concluded, is that all the leaders of the Duma parties gave the comments of the homeless a respectable hearing, said they should have just as much a voice as anyone else, and encouraged the homeless to come to them with other proposals when they have them.
How much of this reaction is simply good politics during an election, of course, is debatable. But giving Moscow’s homeless a voice in this way represents progress in bringing to the attention of those in power the feelings and concerns of those who are probably further from power than almost anyone else in the country.