International Visitor and Alumna: Ludmila Petrova, LLM ’95, Russia

Eleven years ago, Ludmila Petrova, LLM ’95, was awarded the Edmund S. Muskie Fellowship for graduate study in the United States and came to the Washington College of Law from Russia to obtain an LLM degree, concentrating in International Legal Studies.  In 2004, Ludmila, among six other winners from Russia, was awarded another prestigious fellowship - Contemporary Issues Program (CI) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by IREX. In January of this year she arrived in the USA as a CI fellow and found it especially meaningful to return to WCL at a rank of Scholar-in-Residence. She feels very grateful to the WCL for hosting her.

Under the academic advising of WCL Professor and Health Law Project Director Corrine Parver, Ludmila is doing research in Health Law and Policy.  In particular, she is interested in learning about the mechanism of how laws are enacted, who are appointed to actually write the draft of laws and what is the criteria is of choosing such people.  In her home country of Russia, Ludmila already has experience in drafting amendments to laws in the area of health and anti-terrorism.  In fact, several of her anti-terrorist amendments have been under consideration in Russian Duma (Parliament) and some of her amendments on health law are being implemented on the regional level in St. Petersburg.

As part of the CI Program, Ludmila must write a policy brief for Russia that would include her recommendations for improvement of the Russian health policy.  Her policy brief will cover what the Russian system can borrow from the American health system.  While she recognizes that Americans hold many grievances of their own healthcare system, Ludmila asserts that there is yet something valuable to learn from it.  She feels strongly about the need for patient-oriented reform while be not discriminative to doctors too and for change in the healthcare policy of Russia especially for its senior and disabled citizens. Thus, in addition to the policy brief, Ludmila also plans to draft more amendments to improve Russian health law.  She explains,

“The ethical standard of Russian bureaucracy has become incredibly low and their policy has been blatantly discriminatory against the elderly.  The average pension in Russia is only about $50 to $100 a month. People cannot live or eat on that meager amount of money, let alone afford their healthcare costs and medicine that they need.” As benefits for Russia’s elderly, including medical ones, are being increasingly cut, Ludmila’s hope is that her amendments to laws and articles on the topic that she has already published in Russia and is going to publish will at least help to stop the termination of these benefits.  

“Beginning with January first of this year,” Ludmila continues, “the government cancelled most of the social benefits for senior citizens and people with disabilities such as free or discounted medications, free or discounted public transportation, and discounts for home telephone lines, among others.  It has created a situation where the elderly cannot even have telephone service or travel in the country, simply because they cannot afford to.  The elderly, in their worn and threadbare clothing, came out in the major cities all over Russia in the bitter cold of the winter to protest the demeaning canceling of their medication and travel subsidies and other benefits.  These are the very people who fought, laid down their lives, and helped rebuild Russia during and after the Second World War and survivors of Leningrad Blockade, in particular. I consider what is going on in Russia, tantamount to genocide.  I desire to do my best through drafting legislation to help stop this most inhuman and disgraceful policy.”

At the conclusion of the CI fellowship in May, Ludmila will return to Russia, however, she looks forward to finding other opportunities to further her studies abroad and continue advocating for healthcare policy reform that will be genuinely beneficial for people.