On Thursday, February 18, employees of City Property Department broke down the door of the Center for Adaptation and Training of Refugee Children of Civic Assistance Committee at Dolgorukovaskaya street, changed locks and set up their own alarm system. Civic Assistance Committee considers Department’s actions unauthorized and intends to fight.
On February 18, the Head of the Center for Adaptation and Training of Refugee Children Olga Nikolayenko arrived at Dolgorukovskaya, 33, build. 6 and found there five men, who had broken down the Center’s door and were changing its locks. She found out that those men were the employees of the City Property Department. When Olga asked on which grounds there was locks replacement and new alarm system installation, Department’s representative answered that the premises is free and he doesn’t need any grounds for his actions:
“The premises is City of Moscow property and legally available. No organisations should be here. Now we have opened it, we’re changing locks. Alarm system has been already installed, ” clarified his actions Andrey Tarakanov, chief specialist of the City Property Department. According to him, notification of unilateral lease termination, sent to Committee last April, gave to the Department the authority to break the doors and lock inside the property of Civic Assistance Committee. We recall that then the Committee didn’t accept the eviction, and we still work there and negotiate with officials.
“I was allowed to take my personal belongings. At least I was able to take away my computer, ” said Olga Nikolayenko. Tarakanov advised to apply with a written request to Vladimir Efimov, Head of the City Property Department, to organize the removal of the rest of our property. After that the men left.
“There is no doubt that this was done illegally. All violent actions can be performed only from the part of law-enforcement authorities, in particular, by bailiffs. The Department doesn’t have such an authority. What has been done is called arbitrariness, ” explained the Chairman of Civic Assistance Committee Svetlana Gannushkina. “This is one of the fundamental principles of law: a citizen can do whatever is not prohibited and official institution can do only what is permitted. Perhaps, the premises is registered in the Department as legally available, but we stay there and we work there! Moreover, we are in regular correspondence with the Department. A member of Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov is making many efforts to help us. And just before the eviction Ella Pamfilova, the Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, sent e letter to the Department, concerning the Center for Adaptation. We cannot understand why the City Property Department or Moscow government don’t appreciate the existence of our Center, where dozens of refugees’ and migrants’ children are taught Russian culture. After all, they learn this culture from young Moscovites, who teach children on a voluntary basis.”
We recall that the Center occupies the premises at Dolgorukovskaya street since 1998. This place was given to Civic Assistance Committee by mayor’s decision. The rent was partially funded by Moscow Public Relations Committee. First, the lease had to be signed every three years, but later the City Property Department extended it indefinitely. On April 13, 2015, Civic Assistance Committee received a notification, that in accordance with Department’s decision on July 13 the rent agreement would be officiallly terminated. This notification didn’t contain any explanation of this decision.
“Next month will be the twentieth anniversary of the Center. I say “will be”, not “would be”, because our Center, it is not about the place, it is about people. And they are here, with us, they have not gone away. I was going to the office today, planning to write different letters, to prepare anniversary events. But then I hit the anniversary event itself. Recently we were discussing urban fears with children. The main fear is that city administration doesn’t need people. People are an obstacle. Merchants, refugee children, pedestrians, automobilists, disabled, pensioners; they are all needless. Good city is a dead city, ” wrote Olga Nikolayenko on her Facebook page.
Elena Srapyan, Civic Assistance Committee
Photo by Olga Nikolayenko