Six Families Forcibly Removed from Hostel

What is affected
Housing Social/public
Land Social/public
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 25 June 2008
Region E [ Europe ]
Country Russia
Location Iasni Proezd Street, north Moscow

Affected persons

Total 30
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Federal Prison Warden Service

On Wednesday June 25, troops from the Federal Prison Warden Service conducted a raid to forcibly remove families residing at the hostel located at number 19, Iasni Proezd Street, in the north of Moscow. For many years the Federal Service has been trying to gain possession of the premises to house prison employees. Judicial procedures have been progressing too slowly for the troops liking and those in charge of Moscow’s Prison Warden Service decided to speed up the process.

A little background to the situation is needed to fully comprehend it. The hostel, which was originally State-owned, was used by the textile factory “Smena” to house its workers. At the beginning of the 1990s, Moscow’s government also used it as a shelter for refugees fleeing from wars raging in various republics of the former Soviet Union, especially Abkhazia and Azerbaijan. In 1994, the hostel was illegally privatised by the Smena factory. When the factory closed down, it was handed over to the Federal Prison Warden Service. This information was not conveyed to the residents. 132 families have been living in this hostel since 1979 when Smena announced that it needed to recruit labour from the rest of the region. Along with the families who have been living in the hostel for more than thirty years (the hostel originally provided temporary accommodation), 16 refugee families arrived at the beginning of the 1990s. All of these people have formally been given the right to live in this hostel but they, in fact, do not exist on or have been removed from lists, sold and purchased like mere furniture.

Similar wangling is familiar to millions of inhabitants living in hostels all over Russia, who fell victim to the new housing Code and the inhumane logic of the property market. However, the Iasni Proedz hostel is known throughout the country as the place where the struggle by residents of workers’ hostels to defend their right to housing began at the beginning of 2005.

The first inhabitants, those of this hostel, established a residents’ committee, made appeals in the city and throughout the country to ensure that hostel residents were heard. It was only after numerous interregional protests that the uncertain plight of hostel residents caught the attention of the government which then officially recognized in 2006 the right of hostel residents to defend and protect their right to permanent housing…unless the hostel belonged to the city. Most of the hostels were illegally privatised in the 1990s by their inhabitants themselves. At the beginning of this century when the new owners wanted to “gain profit” from their buildings, it was already too late to take action because the statute of limitations had already expired.

However, the residents of Iasni Proedz took the necessary action in time and, for a long time, lodged complaints about the illegal takeover of the building by the Federal Prison Warden Service. Following several twists and turns-court rulings at times in favour of the residents, at other times in favour of the Federal Prison Warden Service depending on how the jury was made up- the case in still before the courts. The prison wardens therefore, have no legal reason for forcibly removing the residents of the hostel and even less of a reason for removing them themselves manu militari.

That is exactly what they did. The first raid was carried out on Tuesday, June 24. Police commissioners showed up suddenly with eviction notices issued by the courts for six people, refugees without any legal record or registration living in the foyer with their families. When they realized that the refugees in question had small children in their care and that the eviction notices did not make any mention of such children, they went away. After they left, however, approximately one hundred strong men, employees of the prison service and hooligans who were, no doubt, hired to
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