Settled Temporarily For 28 Years

A refugee from Baku has been living in a hotel for the last 30 years, where she was settled “temporarily” by Moscow government. To put it mildly, hotel’s owner is not happy about it.

The Moscow City Court ruled to recover money from 91-year-old victim of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to pay for utilities at a hotel in which the Moscow government placed her almost 30 years ago.

“Recovering of unjust enrichment”, as it is officially called, covers a three-year period, that is statute of limitations of utility payments. In total according to the court decision, Zhanna Petrovna Ivanyan must pay 66 910 roubles to the Ostankino hotel.

Thus, the Moscow city court overturned the decision of Ostankinskiy city court which stood by the side of the pensioner in October last year. Then it was found that in relation to hotel’s utility payment at a rate that applies to non-residential premises “plaintiff’s claims to recover unjust enrichment … can not be satisfied by the court.”

Not only Zhanna Ivanyan but also other Baku Armenians who fled the zone of interethnic conflict in the 89-90s to Moscow find themselves in the similar situation. The issue of housing for 15 families has not been resolved for a third of century. In fact, these people are internally displaced persons as they never crossed the borders of the state of their nationality. But in 1989 when they left Azerbaijan there had not been the law on internally displaced persons in USSR. It was adopted after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993. In 2000’s all these people were recognized as Russian citizens and today they possess Russian passports.

In 1990 the Moscow Government settled Baku Armenians in Moscow hotels and dormitories. After privatization hotels’ owners received Bakuvians “into the bargain”. Some owners tried to evict them (and some of them succeeded). One hotel allocated considerable sums of money for purchase of housing to former Bakuvians.  Some of them were able to solve the housing problem on their own. Bakuvians from non-privatized hotels were resettled to Vostryakovo village. Only the most vulnerable remained unsettled.

The owner of Ostankino hotel in 2006 appealed to the court with a claim to evict Baku Armenians but Butirskiy district court dismissed the appeal. As follows from the court decision as well as from the response of the Federal Migration Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia “maintenance and arrangement of citizens, who were forced to leave Azerbaijan SSR and Armenian SSR as a result of interethnic conflict in 1989-1990, have not been settled by legislative and regulatory acts of federal jurisdiction so far.”

In 2016, the owner of the hotel changed. It was the new owner who filed a claim to the Ostankinskiy District Court of Moscow to recover “unjust enrichment”, i.e. utilities payments, from Baku Armenians and Zhanna Ivanyan in particular.

The owner of the Ostankino hotel is dissatisfied with the fact that he loses money fulfilling the obligations that the state must bear. Angry owner refuses to register Bakuvians not only at the place of residence, but also at the place of stay. This makes them completely disempowered. They are deprived of adequate medical care, which is especially important for elderly people. In particular, they don’t have access to free ortopaedic assistance. They are deprived of the opportunity to vote in elections. They are denied admission to employees of the executive authorities of the Moscow government. It is worth noting that in other regions of the Russian Federation the problem of housing for Baku Armenians was solved. Only Moscow has failed to do that.

Translation by Sofia Ismailova