Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

Kremlin Attempts to Evict Oborona

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On Saturday March 22nd at 3 pm we were surprised to receive a visit from the landlord of our headquarters offices in Moscow, a visit which had been expected the following day at noon. No sooner had I won my freedom from illegal military conscription than it appeared the Kremlin was turning to another tactic, eviction.

The landlord arrived in the company of four police officers, and within the next few hours a large crowed of two dozen was present, including Oborona members, police and journalists. The police demanded the identification documents of all the members without explaining the basis for their demands.

I was then taken aside by Deputy District Major Shchukin, who asked me to let the police search the premises, claiming he had reason to believe a crime might have been committed. I refused. The police then began arresting and removing various members and journalists who were present, and a swarm of plainclothes officers arrived.

I attempted to hold on to the banister in order to remain on the premises, but Major Shchukin struck me forcefully and I was dragged into the street and shoved into a waiting car. A total of 13 persons were detained.

I met with Sergey V. Klyuev, head of the UBOP (special anti-extremism police) and was informed that I was not being charged but the premises would be searched. Newspapers, leaflets, stickers, posters and computer memory devices were confiscated.

I was then released from custody following questioning. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all those who supported me through this ordeal.

The result was that we still control the headquarters premises, at least for now, and have repulsed the first attack. We can expect another, and will do all we can to protect our legal rights.

Russian reporter Grigori Amsterdam has published the following account of the events on Robert Amsterdam’s blog:

We have recently reported here on the blog about the search conducted by the local police of a human rights center in Chita. In that same article, we reported on the police threats to evict coordinator of the youth movement «Oborona» Oleg Kozlovsky from an apartment. Just a few days later, this threat was realized by the Moscow police. On Saturday, 22 March, Oleg Kozlovsky and several of his close associates were detained by employees of the Moscow police and sent off to the Division of Internal Affairs (OVD). Eyewitnesses reported that the activists of the movement «Oborona» were treated very roughly; they were pulled and dragged along the ground and the asphalt, and then seated in a police car.

I telephoned Oleg and heard from him about what had happened. (Oleg had by this time already been released from the OVD, and he was found in that very apartment from which they had been attempting to evict him). In the words of Kozlovsky, this was a police operation with the involvement of the forces of the OMON, the MChS [Ministry of Emergency Situations], and employees of the department for the struggle with extremism of the city of Moscow. All in all – somewhere around twenty people. As a result of this operation, they attempted to forcibly evict Oleg Kozlovsky from the apartment on Komsomolsky prospect, and when he and his comrades refused to vacate the premises, he and also members of the organization «Oborona» were driven off to the Khamovniki OVD. A search was conducted in the apartment; books, papers, leaflets, posters, and a computer were confiscated.Earlier, Oleg in a conversation with clarified that he had clarified that to evict him from the occupied premises is possible only in the event that he grossly violates the conditions of the lease agreement for the apartment and if the owner of the apartment advances such claims against him. It became clear that the police had “done work” with the owner of the apartment, and that she had advanced a demand to rescind the contract with Kozlovsky. It should be noted that the demands of both the police and the owners of the apartment grossly contradict the Civil Code of the RF, the Law «On the Militia», and the rules of the lease agreement, in which it is said that eviction of residents upon the early cancellation of the agreement is possible only upon the decision of a court in accordance with Article 688 of the Civil Code.

According to the agreement on the lease of the apartment, to tear it up in unilateral procedure it is necessary to inform the renter of the apartment of this in writing 30 days in advance. In the given situation, however, the request to vacate the apartment was lodged by telephone a mere three days ago, on Thursday. Oleg Kozlovsky meticulously complied with all the terms of the lease, always carried out payments on time. The actions of the police in the given situation likewise turned out to be illegal, because in accordance with item 18 of Article 11 of the Law «On the Militia», the siloviki have the right to enter living quarters only upon the commission there of a criminal offense or during the time of natural disasters.

Commenting on what had taken place, Oleg Kozlovsky declared that he and his colleagues in the movement intend to continue to stand up for their right of assembly together – this is guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the RF. “If it turns out that in Moscow we will officially not be able to lease space,” said Kozlovsky, “the movement will still not collapse from this. We will find an opportunity to gather in the apartments of our activists, in cafés, in parks, wherever. Every time we will meet in a new place”.

Meanwhile…

The procuracy of Central Rayon of St. Petersburg intends to investigate the regional branch of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) party on the subject of extremist activity. The party members received the corresponding notification from the procuracy of the city on Friday, 21 March. Before this, procuratorial workers had demanded from the SPS charter documents, the party’s programme, as well as documents for the lease of the premises occupied by the regional branch on Razyezshaya street.

Leader of the SPS Nikita Belykh declared that the power is not trying to grapple with the extremist organizations that actually do exist in Russia, because for his are needed civic courage and a more sophisticated mind. Instead of this, organizations that aren’t hiding anything and with which everything is transparent and comprehensible are being investigated.

It is noteworthy that such procuratorial investigations took place recently in the St. Petersburg branches of the parties «Yabloko» and the CPRF [Communist Party of the Russian Federation]. Then, the investigators also were interested in what organizations are headquartered in the space occupied by them, took away copies of charters, lease agreements for the premises.

As they clarified in the procuracy of the Central Rayon of St. Petersburg, such investigations bear a planned character [are “routine”—Trans.], and all political parties whose offices are situated in this Rayon are going to be investigated.

And another fresh news item, just in. During the course of an investigation of the activities of the coalition «The Other Russia», the Oblast Investigative Committee of Nizhny Novgorod conducted a two-hour search in the office of the human rights activist and journalist Stanislav Dmitrievsky. It is known that Dmitrievsky had spoken out on numerous occasions with a critique of Russia’s policy in Chechnya. In the year 2006, he had been given a two-year suspended sentence for the publication of appeals by leaders of the Chechen Republic Maskhadov and Zakayev with a call for a peaceful resolution of the Chechen conflict. In an interview with the Russian service of «Voice of America», Dmitrievsly said that as a result of the search, they had taken away a mobile telephone from him, while the search itself was conducted within the framework of a criminal case with respect to the seizure of extremist literature from Dmitry Isusov, National-Bolshevik, activist of «The Other Russia», residing in Arzamas.

Operation «Coronation of the successor»

It is not difficult to assume that such actions will soon take place all over Russia, wherever there are opposition forces acting in an even remotely noticeable way. The fact that documents are being withdrawn and computers with hard disks are being confiscated bears witness to the intentions of the siloviki structures in the event of the need, or of a command from “upstairs”, to initiate criminal cases against the activists under the article «extremist activity». (Indeed, as I understand it, it is precisely for these aims that this law was adopted by the Putinite State Duma in the first place).

The fact that Oleg Kozlovsky managed to come out whole and unharmed from the embrace of the armed forces, into which he had been forcibly conscripted in December of last year, is no guarantee that a criminal case may not be initiated in relation to him for his supposedly extremist activity.

In the opinion of Kozlovsky, all these actions are a targeted campaign of “mopping up” the entire Russian space with the aim of removing all opposition forces from the political field before the inauguration of Dmitry Medvedev, recently elected president. Further, Oleg presumed that after the inauguration, Medvedev may make a good-will gesture and demand that the criminal prosecution of some one of the opposition activists be terminated. (I don’t agree with him on this: Medvedev is not independent in anything, including in such actions. And the actions are being carried out now not in order to forgive someone later on, but in order to completely annihilate the opposition in Russia).

Once, when I was having a conversation with Ludmilla Alexeyeva, chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, we got to talking about some opposition leader who was complaining that in one of the offices of his organization they had seized a computer. This was just a year ago. Then these facts were a rarity. The leader complained that communications with companions-in-arms need to be maintained only by telephone. Ludmilla Alexeyeva noted in this regard: in the years of the dissident movement they didn’t even have telephones. She recalled how they used to gather at someone’s apartment, how they secretly retyped articles on an «Erika» typewriter, how they walked on foot to one another in order to report the latest news… This was at the end of the 50s – the beginning of the 60s of the previous century.

Today, thanks to Putin and his «team», Russia has once again found itself in the same place – in the middle of the previous century. And not only in the scales of the persecutions of the opposition. And this is not going to end: I think that this is just the beginning of wide-scale repressions in relation to those who think differently and disagree with the regime of Putin and his successor, whom someone has labeled the “False Dmitry”.

In such conditions, the opposition is going to have to learn how to live and fight in the conditions of the underground.

Written by olegkozlovsky

March 23, 2008 at 23:58

Posted in Oborona

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One Response

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  1. May I suggest how you can really confuse them (authoritarian jack boots). Start inquiring about rental space around the Kremlin. Heck, send a letter of inquiry for rental space in the Kremlin, to the Kremlin. Remember “nonilligiteme carborundum” Gees…I hope I spelt that right…its latin for ‘don’t let the b..t…d get you down’.

    Your efforts at bringing freedom and true democracy to your country are noted, and applauded.

    barb

    March 30, 2008 at 01:41


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