Brother, Can You Spare a Ruble?

The capitalist revolution is bringing the plagues of poverty, homelessness and unemployment to Russians, who miss the safety net of the old system

Yuri Pronin sleeps on a rough plank door liberated from a neighboring apartment and balanced atop heavy rusting water pipes in the tiny Moscow abode that he has called home since last December. The room has no electricity and no running water. A dented tin bread box and several empty jars serve as his kitchen, while a cardboard box doubles as chair and closet. The decor is Dickensian: bare, paint-chipped walls, splintering floorboards and windows caked with dirt. Apartments in the old Soviet Union were none too luxurious, but this is a big step down.

Pronin's grim quarters are all too...

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