Inside the front door of Viktor Bash's apartment at the Arlene and David Schlang Pavilion in Brownsville, Brooklyn, are two pages of detailed safety instructions to be used in the event of an emergency.
In the fifth-floor hall hangs a notice that a Dec. 4 tenants' meeting has been canceled. The federally subsidized housing project's management recently distributed detailed instructions about the city's new recycling laws.
When the city's Districting Commission earlier this year approved a plan that split Brighton Beach in two, some say it weakened the political power of Russian-speaking new immigrants in south Brooklyn.
But the long-term effect may be the opposite.
Galvanized by what many feel was a raw deal, Russian-Jewish activists more than ever are making themselves heard, exhibiting a "don't tread on me" attitude that is as classically New York as it is alien to the mores of Moscow, Kiev or Minsk.
After weeks of complaints from Russian-speaking residents at its senior housing complex, Brookdale Hospital has hired a full-time translator to aid them.
"We have been informed that a person has been hired as a HUD coordinator to work on housing benefits, and will also provide language assistance services for Russian-speaking residents," said Rose Cuison-Villazor of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
New immigrants from the United States, Canada and Great Britain will receive the same financial aid package as those from other countries under a proposal that won the support this week of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The cabinet must approve the plan before it takes effect Dec. 1.
“It means that there are no more rich Jewish communities and communities in distress,” said Yuli Edelstein, deputy absorption minister and a proponent of the change.
Jerusalem — Yosef Begun, one of the more high-profile Soviet refuseniks of a decade ago, shook his head and whispered, “We’re forgotten heroes.”
Begun, a former electrical engineer who spent 17 years as a refusenik — 10 in prison and in exile — now lives here at the age of 66 on 2,600 shekels ($650) a month. The poverty level in Israel is 2,500 shekels.