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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Homeless Amputees Dumped Outside City

LYUBERTSY, Moscow Region -- Yury Polyakov lay on a bed with yellow-stained sheets Tuesday in the corridor of an overflowing surgery ward in Lyubertsy Regional Hospital No. 1 as flies buzzed around him.

For Polyakov, the pungent ward set aside for patients with infected wounds was a welcome improvement over the last place he'd spent the night f a ditch near the town dump, where he says Moscow police left him like a pile of garbage.

Local police found Polyakov and Vladimir Yakovlev, both homeless amputees, last week as they tried to crawl in the rain along the road toward the train station. Nearby, police found the body of another homeless man who apparently died on the way.

Polyakov, 44, said they were brought to the dump in one of the Moscow police's periodic sweeps of Yaroslavsky Station, in which homeless people are transported outside the city limits. He said the police loaded about 15 people into a truck and let them off at the dump, located just southeast of Moscow.

"They chased us like dogs," he said. "They threw us out, and they didn't look back."

Most of the 15 walked to the station to catch the commuter train back to Moscow, Polyakov said.

"But I'm without legs. Where could I crawl? Though I did try," he added.

Sergei Zamuruyev, deputy prosecutor in Lyubertsy, said his office had handed the case over to prosecutors in Moscow. He said that whether charges would be brought against the police officers depended on what the cause of death of the third man turned out to be.

"I don't know what the one bum died from. If it was from exposure, then there was a crime. If he died of tuberculosis, then that's another thing," Zamuruyev said.

If investigators conclude that the police did not contribute to the man's death, only internal disciplinary action could be taken against the officers, he said.

Mikhail Frolov, an NTV journalist who reported the incident, said the Moscow police's internal security department had opened a separate investigation. That could not be confirmed.

Alexei Nikifirov, coordinator of the homeless assistance program of Medicins Sans Frontieres, said that what happened to the two homeless men is an outcome of a 1993 decree issued by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov providing for the expulsion of people without valid registration.

Nikiforov said this was not the first time he had heard about homeless people being rounded up and driven beyond city limits. The organization issued a statement Tuesday condemning the practice.

"We also hear this from our patients, but unfortunately it has never been documented. Our patients are afraid to turn somewhere for help," he said.

But Nikiforov expressed hope that the media coverage of last week's incident would help draw attention to the problem.

NTV's crime news program "Kriminal" aired footage Thursday of Polyakov and Yakovlev after they were found by Lyubertsy police. The tape shows an argument between the police and the medics called to the scene. The medics at first refused to assist the two men f shivering from the cold and apparently in pain f but eventually took them to the hospital.

Polyakov said that after crawling part of the way to the station they decided to rest for the night in the woods and were only found on the second day. He said a homeless woman who had been with them called the police after their friend, Sergei, died.

Dr. Boris Troitsky, the surgeon attending to Polyakov, said the stumps of his legs were infected after crawling in the dirt.

Troitsky said he would advise Polyakov to return to his native Omsk, where his mother still lives, when he is discharged.

Polyakov said he would like to return home, but he has neither money nor a wheelchair f which he said police forced him to leave behind when they loaded him on the truck last week.

Yakovlev, 38, of the Orenburg region, was across town in Ukhtomskaya Hospital. He remembers being rounded up by the police at Yaroslavsky Station but no other details of last week's events.

"I woke up and I was in the hospital," he said, adding that he has been hauled out of town by police several times during his six years on the street.