Ruska Roma  

According to the 2021 state census, about 170 thousand Roma live in Russia, but unofficial statistics points at 800 thousand people. This difference is explained by the fact that many Roma families do not have documents; in this case, they simply do not exist for the state system. 

Roma are one of the most disenfranchised and discriminated groups of the Russian population in Russia. The reputation of Roma among the ethnically Russian population is largely based on stereotypes — their image is associated with theft, fortune-telling and begging. One of the places with a high concentration of Roma is the village of Velichka in the Bryansk region. Here, in a house abandoned by the previous owners, Vika and Raj live on 35 square meters — their 9 children, 2 daughters-in-law, niece and 2 newborn grandchildren.

Raj and Vika are half brother and sister. Her birth mother left Vika in someone else’s house immediately after birth. When Vika was 18 and Raju was 16 they got married. The 36-year-old Raj has a passport, the 38-year-old Vika lives without documents. Both of them cannot read and write, however, they want their children to receive an education.