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Russian government vows to ease life of disabled citizens

(Xinhua)

10:41, August 20, 2011

MOSCOW, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Russian authorities would undertake a large scale program to ease the everyday life of disabled people, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday.

Putin said the government would amend some 50 national laws to make them compatible with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

"This is a serious step for disabled people in Russia, to help them feel comfortable," Putin told a conference of grassroots organizations helping people with disabilities.

He said work had already started on building a barrier-free environment for disabled people, for which the government would allocate about 50 billion rubles (about 1.7 billion U.S. dollars).

This year, the Russian government adopted a program titled "The Accessible Environment" in order to make government services and offices accessible for disabled citizens and to increase their employment opportunities.

Among other measures, the PM promised to provide physically impaired citizens with personal cars and separate parking lots, compensate the cost of keeping guide dogs, and widen training for sign-language interpreters.

In Russia, with total population of 143 million, more than 13 million people are handicapped and 550,000 of them are children. Currently, only 2.5 percent of the country's schools are accessible for them.

Putin promised to increase the number of the accessible schools eight-fold by 2016.

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