Russian Authorities Should Investigate Unlawful Evictions in Chechnya
Freedom House today expresses deep concern about the illegal eviction of dozens of Chechen families from their homes in Grozny over the past month and calls on the Russian government to conduct a thorough investigation and provide immediate remedy to the affected families.
Authorities in Chechnya have justified the evictions by the need to free up land for new construction projects, but have failed to obtain a court order as required by the Housing Code of the Russian Constitution. The evicted Chechen families have been forced into dormitories in Grozny. In order to make room for the residents whose houses are set for demolition, the current inhabitants of the dormitories—former refugees whose homes were destroyed in the war—have been forced out onto the street. They have not been offered either financial compensation or alternative housing, leaving them homeless in the middle of winter.
“The actions of Chechen authorities are not only morally reprehensible, but they are in direct violation of the Russian Constitution,” said David J. Kramer, executive director at Freedom House. “What is particularly alarming is that the victims are so frightened to protest this abuse of power that they would rather be put out on the street in the dead of winter.”
According to Memorial, a human rights organization in the region, the evictions came to light by accident as the majority of residents were unwilling to complain in fear of retaliation by authorities against themselves or their families. The Kremlin has continually allowed Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov to act with impunity in return for his ongoing efforts to subdue Islamic extremism in the region.
“Ramzan Kadyrov would be more successful in fighting extremism and radicalization in Chechnya by ensuring that authorities adhere to the laws of the Russian Federation, rather than erecting new multimillion dollar construction complexes,” said Sam Patten, Freedom House senior program manager for Eurasia. “The situation must be resolved expediently by providing the evicted families with alternative housing or adequate financial compensation.”
Russia is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
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