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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Number of Disabled in Russia On Rise

The number of people with disabilities in Russia more than doubled in the past six years, reaching 10 million - or about one for every 15 men, women and children in the country, an official said Monday.

First Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko said that the decline of preventive medical care, accidents at Russia's aging, disaster-prone industries, and local armed conflicts all appeared to be factors.

Some 500,000 of the disabled are children, many of whom were born with various deformities because of a lack of proper prenatal care, Matviyenko said, according to Itar-Tass.

Some Russian children have also lost limbs or suffered other serious injuries when playing with explosive devices that have been smuggled out of war zones and lay abandoned around the country.

Russia has practically no facilities for people with disabilities, and wheelchair access is virtually unheard of. The situation is largely a holdover from the Soviet era, when the government believed that the sight of people with disabilities marred the image of the Soviet state, and preferred to have the disabled confined to their apartments.

Matviyenko urged the government Monday to provide more assistance to people with disabilities, and give tax breaks and other perks to enterprises that employ the disabled.

?Special assistance should be rendered to the enterprises that employ the disabled,? she was quoted as saying. ?Those enterprises should not be stripped of tax privileges, and should receive state orders (for their products).?

Many of Russia's disabled need artificial limbs, but foreign-made prosthetics are unaffordable to the impoverished people, while adequate Russian-made devices are scarce, Matviyenko said. She promised that the government will try to repair the situation.

?We shall do all we can for the work in this sphere to be carried to a new, higher level,? she told reporters.