(ENG) Protests and organising against illegal construction project in Moscow

Protests and organising against illegal construction project in Moscow

On 9th of October 300 inhabitants of Chertanovskaja ulica 41 in Moscow protested against the project of a private investor in their courtyard. What started as a rally beside the already enclosed allotment degenerated in a fight between police forces, when the families started to block the traffic of the through road; 40 people were detained – mostly politically active people from other parts of the city standing in solidarity with the inhabitants – and only released the next day. Some of them got fines and some days of jail for “obstruction of the police work”. They were blamed for coming from other parts of the city to “disturb the peace” and some of them beaten and injured.

People put in jail not only on the base of false accusations – the defence was not even listened to – but also violating their citizens’ right to protest against infringement of the law, is not the only alarming fact in this matter. The project the inhabitants of Chertanovskaja resist against is itself illegal: In the courtyard of the ten-story-buildings built in the 70ies three houses, one 25 floors, the others 18 and 20 floors high, should be erected together with a basement garage. The new luxury buildings should approach the old ones as much as 12 meters, violating any building leases existing. As the private investor wants to realise the project as soon as possible and therefore lets his workers work late and without weekend breaks, prescriptions regarding noise, pollution or labour rights are infringed upon as well.

Actually, since the 70ies a kindergarten was planed on this spot, which never was realised. Instead, the investor destroyed now the playgrounds situated on “his” parcel, reducing even more the scarce social facilities in the area. That’s why in the beginning of their struggle some months ago, the inhabitants demanded the planed kindergarten to be built instead of the luxury apartments and offices now alloted. Their claims have been reduced ever since to reach now the legally prescribed, but obviously not guaranteed minimum: The number or buildings should be reduced to one, the offices discarded; the building should be dislodged as much as possible from the surrounding buildings as well as reduced in height to comply with building standards; residents should be given compensation for the loss of housing standard resulting from the new building in the form of rent reductions; the building process should conform to noise, pollution and labour standards. Nothing revolutionary so far, just the minimum prescribed by the law.

Nevertheless City representatives still don’t admit the project to be illegal and the negotiations with the residents’ initiative doesn’t show any progress so far; the project is unaltered and the workings go on, even though there are meetings with City and Parliament representatives almost every week. No wonder: The investor announced he will invest any sum to get the (illegal) project trough. And obviously it works. Now the residents declared they will take their resistance to another level: They obtained the support of lawyers to submit the case to the court. The result will show, how independently the courts work – at least this will raise even more the “investments” of the investor to push through his project as it is.

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