Monday, April 3, 2023

Russia’s Four Million Homeless a National Shame, Udaltsov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 1 – The Russian government plays down the number of homeless in the streets of Russian cities; but anyone who walks those streets can see that the actual number is far closer to the four million activists for the homeless say than the few tens of thousands that officials are prepared to admit exist, Sergey Udaltsov says.

            That figure, more than two percent of the entire population of the country, is Russia’s national shame and a sign that “something isn’t right” in Russia today and that measures must be taken, measures that will require a change in popular attitudes and the revival of some Soviet-era practices, the Svobodnaya pressa commentator says (

            In Soviet times, the country’s criminal code gave the authorities the power to get the homeless off the streets although it seldom addressed their underlying problems. After 1991, the authorities washed their hands of the problem and stopped doing much of anything, contributing to the widespread view among Russians that homelessness is the result of personal failings.

            In fact, Udaltsov says, homelessness is the product of a complex of factors including difficulties in finding housing when one shifts from one city to another or the loss of housing through the criminal machinations of others. And the state and society need to recognize these problems and do something about them.

            Going back to the Soviet practice of rounding up and incarcerating the homeless and then doing nothing to help them transform themselves obviously isn’t the answer, but providing basic services and giving the authorities the power to force the homeless to make use of them must be part of the answer to this deep-seated problem.

            The goal must be not to hide homelessness but to help those who have fallen into that state to escape it and to escape it permanently, Udaltsov says, something that won’t be easy but that requires fundamental shifts in popular attitudes about the ways in which state and society must work together to address such problems.


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