Artem Berman: Look, I want to tell you something. I will be telling you the same things as I tell everyone. Well, the story is that I am doing my Ph.D. at Rovira I Virgili University in Tarragona that is in Spain. The topic is the impact of the digital economy on the employment of people with disabilities. Well, whether it has been changed or not, taking into account new opportunities that this digital economy can offer, or whether other factors that influence the economy do exist. Then I thought since I have these interviews I can use them for publication on this website. That’s the whole story. Let’s start. In short, we have approximately 22 questions. Well, the research is qualitative. This means that questions will be maximally open-ended, I mean implying the possibility to make a detailed reply, to express your opinion and share impressions. So, there are three types of questionnaire: “I have never worked,” “I was employed, but I am not employed presently” and “I am currently employed.” Well, given all, I think, it is the third one.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, work is immortal like a little pony.

Artem Berman: So, we have “I am currently employed”.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes. I am currently employed.

Artem Berman: The first questions are very easy. They are just formal. The first one, “Are you allowing to use your interview for the scientific research work?”

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, of course, I am allowing.

Artem Berman: Are you allowing to publish your interview on this website?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, I am allowing.

Artem Berman: Would you like your real name or pseudonym to be used?

Alexander Stadnichenko: My real name.

Artem Berman: Well, your name…

Alexander Stadnichenko: Alexander Vladimirovich Stadnichenko.

Artem Berman: Okay, the fifth one is “Contact information”. E-mail, phone. Well, it seems to me, I have your phone, and we are connected…

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, if necessary, I will provide you with e-mail.

Artem Berman: Yes, How old are you?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Let me count…Thirty-six, seven … What year is it? Eighteenth.

Artem Berman: Eighteenth.

Alexander Stadnichenko: I was born in October, 1981.

Artem Berman: Well, you gotta be kidding me.

Alexander Stadnichenko: [laughter]

Artem Berman: How old is he?

Male voice: He will be 37 this November. October.

Artem Berman: 36 full years. You are still young. I am 42. The seventh question – gender?

Male voice: [laughter]. No way!

Artem Berman: Surprise.

Alexander Stadnichenko: No-no-no.

Artem Berman: Are you living independently or with parents/other relatives?

Alexander Stadnichenko: I am living with my parents.

Artem Berman: What kind of disability do you have? Politically correct words are rare in Russian.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, I got it.

Artem Berman: So, give the information you think is necessary to be given – what happened, when it happened, at what age – either injury or …

Alexander Stadnichenko: I have progressive muscle dystrophy. It is colloquially known as myopathy. It is the muscular disease that is supposedly genetic, supposedly hereditary, but I do not notice any heredity. That is, I have a rare mutated form kind. Most likely, it is after Chernobyl. I mean, it began to progress at the age of 6-7 years.

Artem Berman: Okay. How did it influence your life in all aspects – social, family, personal, opportunities to get an education, professional, etc.? Speak up.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Come on, speak up. And clowns are at this moment. Well, it influenced a lot. It can be said, I still survive. It’s good. Because it’s not a fact that I would still survive if I went by feet. It’s because I climbed where I couldn’t. Even using a wheelchair, I manage to climb to the place where they pull me out with a truck then. That’s it. The better the jeep is, the longer you will run for the tank… for the tractor. That’s it. Well, it is difficult at first, but then you are becoming a kind of bulldozer, locomotive, diesel locomotive. And you just trudge and … What are the limitations?! I have no limitations. I just have certain difficulties, certain variations and I am looking for the solutions. As for me, I have a very cheerful life. It is life with its own, let’s say, subtleties, but it can be said that it is more developed and saturated than most of the ruck.

Artem Berman: Well, to some extent, yes, I understand what you are talking about. What were the problems, the difficulties initially? My understanding is that it began to progress at the age of 6 or 7. Did you go to a regular school or get a home education?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, I mean, it was a regular school. Well, originally I… I went to the regular school, I mean, up to the third form. Accordingly, the progression of the disease went on, etc. I started to visit the hospitals and examinations. Other things were the lack of education. I mean I missed a lot, and then they homeschooled me, but it was a reconfiguration of the USSR… The teachers simply gave up going to the house. I mean no one … I mean, I can say that I have a 3rd-grade education.

Artem Berman: You mean, formally.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, formally yes. Then I studied something with my parents, something my sister helped me. That’s it. A teacher came once in three months or six months. I have an official paper about finishing nine forms, and that’s it.

Artem Berman: How did your social rehabilitation begin? What was the process of returning, well, or, so to say, getting back into the society? What or who helped? What or who was the obstacles?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, you can say that. There were lots of sticks and stones. Besides that, I sat in the wheelchair at the age of 13; I was already moving only on the wheelchair, we also had a house with stairs and a lot … To leave the house … Stairs. So, it can be said, that it was different banal difficulties. It can be said that the teenager was isolated, and then, as they say, had luck. My and my father met… We drove by car, came back, Nikolai Podrezan stood on the road. I don’t know, whether someone knows him or not. He shouted smth. We took him to the center and got acquainted. He was already at that time a spinal invalid with experience; he had his IP phone. So to say, he began to show and tell, in principle, yes, some kind of new literature at that time. We didn’t have the Internet at that time, yes. I mean, the Internet appeared when I had 14 or 15. I mean it was already after our meeting. I mean we started to find out something somehow. Podrezan also advised me to go the sanatorium. My first sanatorium was Slavyansk; I saw there a lot of people that were the same. I mean, I saw people, I saw that they had an active way of life. Someone is plunging, but someone is banging, someone does something else, and I realized that while you did not pull yourself together, no one would give you magic push. Well, that’s it, I started to progress. In general, there was a lot of volunteering activity in my youth. I took part in different events, attended some funds and organizations. I mean first I went, and they trained me, yeah. However, after 3-4 years, at the age of 19 or 18, I already was a volunteer, who showed and told young people everything. It was even a story when we were invited. It was not a rehabilitation center, but meeting in Pushcha Voditsa. All of the organizations for people with disabilities had meetings there. Well, and I went there just in case. Well, I spent 90 percent of my time talking to volunteers and kids with mothers with AIDS and HIV. We organized children’s theaters, talked and showed smth. Let’s just say; I started to have an active social life. These all were before the certain time. Well, then I realized that all social things were good, but we needed to eat and earned, that’s it. And then I started to have jobs – the first, the second, the third – for someone.

Artem Berman: Well, in principle, it corresponds, so to speak, the path of any person with two legs. Somehow.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes.

Artem Berman: Roughly speaking.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, if to analyze everything, if a healthy person actively took part in different projects, help smth during his/her student’s life, then I just had a social activity. I mean, I did not study anywhere, well, only sanatoriums, rehabilitation centers, and camps. That is the same thing.

Artem Berman: Are you receiving support (some special treatment related to your disability) from the organization where you are employed? What kind of support?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, yes, I got it. Well, yes. Well, when I worked for others, there was no indulgence. I mean, I had a full schedule as expected and got the same salary.

Artem Berman: Did you work remotely or in the office?

Alexander Stadnichenko: I worked remotely. All my work was remote, but there have even been occasions when sometimes I went to the office if it was necessary. So I didn’t have indulgences. In principle, if necessary, I got to work. Well, social, yes, benefit, help …

Artem Berman: Especially from the employer…

Alexander Stadnichenko: No, none whatsoever. I mean, I even tried to take up the question that freelancers earn more because they do not use, roughly speaking, office tea, coffee, yes, and electricity. And they have salary higher as in many countries. However, such arguments did not help. Accordingly, I had the same salary as office workers had.

Artem Berman: Got it. Again, it is more about your experience of working for someone. Have you ever been promoted? Do you see the career path? Do you perceive yourself as a candidate for promotion? Why? Why not?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes. I can say that I am proud of the fact that no one got me any job, neither by an acquaintance nor by kinship. I mean I always found any work independently, or someone addressed to me because I was already a specialist. Yes, there are no indulgences. I mean I came to the workplace. If I saw opportunities for career growth, I harnessed, did a certain amount of work, showed the leadership what I could do more than that. And it happened that I came as a sales manager, and three months later I was already the head of the sales department.

Artem Berman: What could you call the main difficulties or challenges in your work?

Alexander Stadnichenko: The biggest difficulty is that I need to be in two places at the same time, or, in principle, to be somewhere. And it’s not always easy – to stand up and run, yes.

Artem Berman: Yes.

Alexander Stadnichenko: First of all, the transport issue, because you need to have access to a car, a driver. Secondly, you need time. Disability requires more time for dressing, changing the place, moving in space. And when you understand that if you had two legs, you would do everything for half a day, yes. Now I understand that I need to spend the whole day, and it’s not the fact that I will have time. So, sometimes it hinders a little, it slows down. I mean you need to choose priorities, and, well, to eliminate the bling. Well, there are certain difficulties in this context.

Artem Berman: And what was the main reason for you to start working at the time and continue to work now?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, I mean, the first push was that I wanted some candies or some kind of little things. Yes, that is, my first earnings began when I had a computer at the age of15 years. I mean I started to earn some money typing the text etc. I already understood then that having your earnings meant that it was your money that you earned and you could invest both in your family and in your things, and you don’t need to run and ask your parents’ money.

Artem Berman: Yes.

Alexander Stadnichenko: And vice versa, to help them, yes. And then a desire to earn appeared when I understood that I wanted to have my private life.
Yes, I mean I understood that if I wanted to build my private life, I need not just ‘hi-hi’, ‘ha-ha’, yes, and miserable money, but I need a stable income. And when I had a stable income, I already understood that I could progress ahead. I mean, the frames expanded immediately and realized that you could have middle management that will work for you instead of being this middle management and work for someone.

Artem Berman: Can you imagine yourself not working and what would be the consequences of such a decision, say, or such an event?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Not working, yes. I can imagine myself not working, having enough big capital, really such a huge capital. I would like to spend time, well, on trips, yes. However, however, I would still have people who would implement my ideas, I mean, you can say, I’m a creative person, yes! I came up with the idea of a single wheelchair, wheelchair, yes, which would be compact, but all-terrain, and I want to make it come true. Well, yes, the idea of some kind of other device came up. Well, I can rough it our on the on napkins or something else. I want someone to build it, but do not waste time on it. That is, yes, I want to spend time with pleasure, but some ideas, it’s, you can say a hobby.

Artem Berman: So, theoretically, the entrepreneur’s spirit exist.

Alexander Stadnichenko: In theory, I could supposedly do nothing, but do it for my pleasure.

Artem Berman: Well, in fact, this is a financial issue now, and if we return to the real world, then…

Alexander Stadnichenko: In the real world, I now make accent from morning to night and understand that if I have a blind spot, then I will miss someone ahead, and I will need no longer to gain momentum but to catch up. And I do not want to catch up, but I want to continue to gain momentum.

Artem Berman: You need to run very fast to be on the same place.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, something like this, yes.

Artem Berman: Do you consider work as an important way of rehabilitation and integration of a person with disabilities into the society?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Definitely yes. Now I communicate with a large number of people with disabilities. They are divided into several categories, yes: people who work, people who somehow somewhere work alongside with something else and disabled. That’s it. Yes. Accordingly, the third category of disabled people, yes, they sit, chew something like snot, they want to get a kind of mythical bonus from somewhere, yes, that condescension happen without doing nothing, and they are surprised why they have nothing. I mean, believe, as soon as a person becomes a person, once he is socially adapted, no one should, he needs to earn, work, be socially useful. I mean, even in the wildlife, a creature that does nothing but only eats is a parasite, well, we draw a parallel. And the parasite seems to be good, but when there are a lot of them, society does not stretch and will be ill with cancer.

Artem Berman: Is the place where you are currently working your first workplace, and if not, why did you leave previous jobs

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes. The current place of work is not the first. It’s really hard to say how many works I have changed. A couple of years ago I was trying to write my resume, and it turned out that it was 3 Word sheets. It was what I remembered. And every time it was a desire to progress ahead. I realized that I had grown out of it long before. Starting to work at a certain place, yes, I mean, work for someone, not for myself, during 1-2-3 months I realized that it was primitive, and if there was no growth, I was already getting bored. I mean I see no reason to work in the same place for ten years, getting the same salary, without the possibility of any growth, I mean, well my ambitions gave me no truce. I mean, why can’t I do more, right? I mean I can do it, give me the opportunity, yes. Well, I show you, I can do this, let me progress ahead, well, I mean, don’t bring me to a standstill. And if there was an opportunity, yes, I could progress ahead, I, yes, would achieve momentum, yes, I would climb the ladder, etc. If not, then excuse me, I will be moving on, I will be looking for options. Well, accordingly, there was only one moment when I had to take a step back in my life, yes. Here. However, I always progressed, I mean more-more-more, more-more-more. That’s it.

Artem Berman: What does your family think about your job? Do they support you or not? Do they motivate you or not?

Alexander Stadnichenko: They always support me. I believe that they are happy that the son is not a shuffler, not an alcoholic, which he does not sit and complain like give me money, everyone owes me. I mean, it can be said that my parents are overprotective when I work too much or smth. It’s like, “Stop a little; you can’t make all the money.” Well, well, it’s clear. On the other hand, in the beginning, when I started something new, there was a fear of them, “Where are you doing? And why do you need this? And what are you doing? “. Now when I’m saying that everything will be fine. “Well, if you are sure, then everything will be fine.” They already trust me, and…

Artem Berman: The question is not very suitable for you because of the absence of any formal university education. We can skip. The question is, “Is your work connected with your education? Does your higher education help you have more opportunities to find work and how do you maintain the current level of your specialization? ”

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, yes, in principle, I can also answer this question. That is, I had a desire, as they say, in my youth, yes, because of my stupidity. I thought, “Maybe for journalism?” I mean that was a desire to enter the technical university. But, again, I understood that the work of just several of my friends was connected with their education.
I mean, let’s say, I think a doctor should get an education, yes. But this is specific, yes. A lawyer should receive an education, yes. The person, who works, let’s say, a physicist. I mean, all the others, that is, there still are some special, yes.

Artem Berman: Yes, specific.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Others, well, I see no reason, and whenever I had the thought. “Maybe, I should go to study,” every time I thought, “For what?” I mean I changed my profession, movement, well, really, so, cardinally changed, and you cannot say… I mean, I worked in the news department – wrote news, and we can say, I was a journalist, smth like this, yes. I worked in online stores as a sales manager. I had lots of jobs, yes. I worked in the call centers. I worked as a social worker, yes. Now I work as a technical, yes, engineer, you can say. Well, the directions are a bit different. So, roughly speaking, being educated, having spent five years of my life, on this so-called unnecessary thing, one might say, unnecessary things, I would live it down a little.

Artem Berman: If a person has a linguist diploma in English, then who am I, right?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, it seems, yes.

Artem Berman: How do you maintain the level of what you are currently doing? For example, the Internet, magazines, I do not know, communication, the level in the profession, whatever the profession is.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Okay, I got the question. Well, with the advent of the Internet everything becomes much easier. You can always download some literature, watch videos and everything else.
At the moment roughly speaking, it concerns construction, yes, engineering of some kind of design. I have an idea-task in my head, yes. I see how it can be realized. And then I look for options, on the Internet, yes, what can be similar, options. Sometimes the literature about the construction of bridges can help in the construction of a wheelchair. It is because it is also framings or smth. I mean now I use the Internet, yes. I’m looking for variants of some solutions, looking for broad circles that somehow can come into contact. Accordingly, during my attempts, yeah, there are one, two, three four persons, who are specialists in this or that aspect, who I can count on, to have advice. It cannot be always directly related to my task, but it can be said, thoughts or some ideas, somehow will be added in this concept.

Artem Berman: Let’s go on. Are you receiving any financial support from the state? If so, what percentage (not necessarily to name the figures) of your total income is a pension?

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes. Good question. I had, well, let’s discuss a bit, yeah.
A person with a disability of the first group, yes, a person with a disability of the first group suffices only two years of work experience to receive a working pension. I have about ten years of work experience. I mean I had many jobs with the employment record book. Also, all of me believed very naively that I would receive a labor adequate pension, yeah. Recently, I left a labor pension, gave it in disgust and washed it out. It is 1450 or 1440 hryvna. You can count it in dollars, yeah.

Artem Berman: 50.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, something like this. Now I have moved to a so-called social pension. And it is already 2150 or 2170, well, to cut it short, 2200 hryvnia, approximate.

Artem Berman: 90-85.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, yes, I hope, I will never live on my pension. That is, well, this is a negligible percentage of the income that I have today. And I understand that a pensioner, yes, can’t live on pension … I do not know I look with horror at the elderly people who are alone, which have such pensions, and it scares me. Well, I. I do not mind, about cats, watchdogs or someone else, I feel sorry for really old people who have worked all their lives, buttled, and get minuscule money now, and when the old woman faces a choice to buy a loaf of bread or some pills… It’s just, well…It’s scary, it’s just scary.

Artem Berman: Are you satisfied with your current level of income?

Alexander Stadnichenko: No, of course! Multiply it, well, at least by ten, yes, and there would be a normal living wage.

Artem Berman: Okay, yes. Look, we’ve already reached the last question. It is a kind of a philosophical one; it consists of some questions. So you can answer as you wish. So, the final one. I would like you to describe yourself in your own words. To do this, please, complete the following phrases. The first is so open – “I …”.

Alexander Stadnichenko: I do funny things and get on with this. I build both my life and its directions with life adjustments nowadays.

Artem Berman: Okay.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, that’s it.

Artem Berman: Yes. Taking into account that the disease happened early enough, it could be difficult to answer, but, “Before the trauma or before the disability I was….”

Alexander Stadnichenko: Before I was injured, I was like a juvenile go-getter, and I stayed, well … Although, yes, I can answer, I often observed when a person, roughly speaking, was injured, there, at the age of 15-17, yes, and he/she approximately remained at the same level. Well, it does not mean that he/she is behind the times, but he/she somehow gets stuck in the same period. But, I think, it depends on the person. The person either wants to develop and trudge, or he is comfortable in that …

Artem Berman: State.

Alexander Stadnichenko: In which he is. And it is already …

Artem Berman: Although if we talk philosophically, many people with two legs do not want to start working nowadays. The day before yesterday I read in El Pais, in Aragon parents put the law on their 35 year-old-child, and according to a court decision he is obliged to leave their home and start living independently.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, yes, I’ve noticed this a lot.

Artem Berman: It seems they are tired that 35-year-old man lives off mother and father.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, I have also noticed a lot that people, which have legs and hands either complaining or don’t want or smth else. And there was such a case when a girl told me that she was so tired, so tired of supporting her husband, family, everything. When I asked the question what happened with the husband, well, actually, what a problem was – he had an amputation to the knee. I mean…

Artem Berman: Yes, there is a grief.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes.

Artem Berman: And he also had severe pressure sores several times, because he lay, she even cleans the urinal for him.

Artem Berman: Both legs to the knee?

Alexander Stadnichenko: One leg to the knee. Yes. And I kept trying with this. And I decided not to comment, not to answer, nothing, because there was a solid …

Artem Berman: I have noticed a tendency that the earlier a person experiences a trauma or a disease, the higher probability that he will try…

Alexander Stadnichenko: To adapt.

Artem Berman: Yes, to break in. It’s because you have lived in 25, and suddenly… However, to think that the loss of one leg is disability…

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, I agree, but again it depends on lots of factors. Roughly speaking, well, the fact that I was in the camps of the active rehabilitation in my youth, in different similar events, it can be said like this, many people, leaders, took their places before my eyes. I mean, not thousands, but several hundreds of people were before my eyes, and they were breaking themselves and just recently broke. And, well, let’s just say, 5 percent of these people lead an active way of life nowadays, they are active social people. Someone has a business, somebody has some kind of activity or something, yes. And other people somewhere disappeared – they are neither to be seen or heard. It’s possible to say; the ruck became nothing. Someone does not work at all, lives on a pension. I have one friend who lives on a pension, yeah. I have enough money for beer and cigarettes, and it’s enough for me. That’s it. And…

Artem Berman: Well, again, if we make a comparison with the world of healthy people…

Alexander Stadnichenko: That’s the point.

Artem Berman: It is also a huge percentage, as they say, life is not bad when you have bread.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, when I started, when I had my first idea, why I couldn’t create my online shop, and when I told people, “Let’s do it.” Yes, healthy people, yes, as you say in quotes, and everything else, but how, and what. People have fear. He took his social unit, yes, and there is no movement – a step to the side. Why cannot I do this? Someone does, yes, the same as me, someone does, with the same handles, legs, head, yes, why cannot I also do it?

Artem Berman: Well, the next one, “I am able to…”

Alexander Stadnichenko: Give me a foothold, and I’ll get up from the table. I am able; I can do a lot. The question is motivation, necessity and … Let’s say so if I need something; I will apply 120% of the effort to achieve this. I can’t notice anything that cannot be done. It’s just a matter of time, finances and needs.

Artem Berman: Yes. “In future I….”

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes. I will be the funny optimist that goes on to behave eccentrically and gets on with his life.

Artem Berman: Okay. And the last two questions. One of them is positive, and one of them is negative. The negative one is “I am afraid of…” Answer within a zone of your comfort.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Yes, got it. I have not been afraid of spiders for a long time. I’m afraid … Well, That, in principle, it is stupid to be afraid of smth. That’s it. Everything that is going on, it either should happen or if is stupid to be afraid of this.

Artem Berman: I have recently read it: You do not need to worry at all – it makes no sense to worry about little things, and it’s too late to worry about the serious things.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Well, yes. I see no reason to worry about smth that hasn’t happened yet, and maybe won’t happen. We need to treat the things as they come in.

Artem Berman: The last one, “I want…”

Alexander Stadnichenko: I want… Well, ideally, I want to have 1.3 billion or at least 130 million, and then I can figure out what to do. Well, or at least the minimum for today – it’s … I would like to have a comfortable wheelhouse, a full tank every month to drive around the world several months-years.

Artem Berman: Okay, I got it. I am pressing “pause.” Thank you.

Alexander Stadnichenko: Thank you.

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Photographer Olenka Galay