They are very abundant in Russia and it can be a little despairing at times to see this (mostly in the Metro). It is up to your discretion what you give if any, be warned there are professional panhandlers who are too lazy to work and find it easier to take money from tourists, or some other bleeding heart. You will see the ones who are in real need, the war veterans with no legs, the very old who get no pensions etc., etc.
Remember, if you give something, the majority head to the nearest liquor Kiosk and spend it on cheap Vodka. But many are in true need, you even see young soldiers asking for money now, as they are paid so little, when they are paid. Watch out for the Gypsies, they are everywhere and not to be trusted at anytime, stay away from them.