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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Handicap Plan Comes Under Fire

Mayor Yury Luzhkov reprimanded senior city officials Tuesday over what he called a half-baked program to make Moscow more friendly to the disabled and gave them 15 days to redraft it.

Seventy percent of all buildings in the city are not handicapped accessible and new shopping centers, including Yevropeisky near Kievsky Station and several run by Ramstore, are not fully equipped with ramps, toilets, parking spaces and visual information for the disabled, Igor Syrnikov, the head of the city department for social issues, said at City Hall's weekly meeting.

"I feel shame that we did not pay enough attention to this point as we planned the 69 million square meters of buildings that were built since 1989," Luzhkov said.

Turning to his deputy, Vladimir Resin, who oversees construction, Luzhkov criticized his approval system for new buildings as "unsuitable."

Senior city officials Tuesday presented an 18 billion ruble ($686 million) program to improve life for the disabled from 2007 to 2009, but Luzhkov said it was too general and ordered them to resubmit it with more details in 15 days.

Syrnikov suggested that inspectors be obliged to get approval from social workers and organizations for the disabled before they could sign off on new buildings.

About 10 percent of Moscow's population of 12 million live with disabilities.

Nadezhda Kim, head of Contact, a nongovernmental organization, said she often felt stuck at home because of problems navigating Moscow in her wheelchair. "Disabled people are not a problem for society, they are just members of society," she said.