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Peter made unsuccessful attempts to exclude the Church from responsibility for caring for persons thought to be mentally ill — in 1723 he decreed that such individuals no longer be sent to monasteries, and several secular institutions were organized in Saint Petersburg — but these efforts were abandoned by Peter's successors.
Catherine II, the Great (1762-96) did, in 1775, establish regional Departments of Public Welfare as part of her reforms of local government.
This is followed by a focus on Soviet-era disability policy, which I characterize as a functional model of disability.
Areas of particular concern include the system of institutionalization, the special education system, and Soviet approaches to rehabilitation and work placement.
Although improvements in disability rights have been made in post-Soviet Ukraine and Russia, there are important legacies of the socialist era that have shaped current disability policy, official and popular discourse about disability and disability rights, and the strategies that advocacy groups develop and are able to pursue.
During the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow, a Western journalist inquired whether the Soviet Union would participate in the first Paralympic games, scheduled to take place in Great Britain later that year.
Literature on the pre-modern period refers to "wandering minstrels," who often were blind, and "strolling beggars," many of whom were disabled, who solicited charity in and around Orthodox Churches and monasteries.
Such persons were often referred to in Russian as , or "prophets."6 Because of their close association with churches and religious moral culture, these "wanderers" often were respected and revered, but persons thought to be mentally ill were also treated in a dualistic fashion — some manifestations of mental illness were revered, while others were feared (Brown 19-16).
As part of his efforts to regularize and make compulsory the service obligations of the Russian nobility, Peter required all gentry-persons suspected to have mental disabilities (called ), to appear before the Senate for certification.
This certification allowed individuals to be exempted from state service, and it also limited their property rights and forbade them from marrying (Brown 19).