According to the 2010 state census, about
220 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
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.