Rights Commissioner Lukin: Eviction of human rights NGO from office unlawful

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, June 22, 2013) Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin described as arbitrary the eviction of the organization For Human Rights from its office in Maly Kislovsky Street in Moscow by city law enforcement agencies early on Saturday.

“We will discuss with lawyers how to react to what happened,” Lukin told Interfax on Saturday.

“Moscow authorities and police denied me access to the scene, which is a gross violation of the federal constitutional law on human rights commissioner. I will bring up this issue, and I have yet to think how this should be done,” Lukin said.

“Officials from the Moscow administration, the Interior Ministry and apparently some other organizations were trying to settle the dispute between two parties unilaterally, without judicial bodies, and therefore arbitrarily,” Lukin said.

Police and Moscow authorities forcibly evicted For Human Rights, a leading Russian non-governmental organization, from its office late on Friday, claiming that the rent contract for the office had expired.

For Human Rights called the night events an “assault,” in which seven people were injured, including the organization’s 72-year-old leader, Lev Ponomaryov, and Yabloko party leader and Moscow mayoral candidate Sergei Mitrokhin.

“I am saddened and alarmed by what happened,” Lukin said.

“I don’t understand how issues related to premises rented out by a non-governmental organization can be solved in such a way,” he said.

Lukin said he had arrived at the scene last night after he learned from what was happening there from Moscow Human Rights Commissioner Alexander Muzykantsky.

“I arrived there and tried to find out what was happening in line with the law on human rights commissioner, but was denied by police, a lieutenant-colonel who was there and OMON (a riot police task force). This was a gross violation of the law on human rights commissioner. We will revert to this situation later,” Lukin said.

“The Moscow authorities are of the view that the term of the rent of the office, which they rented out to the human rights organization, has expired. The rights organization believes it has not expired. How are such disputes resolved in a country governed by the law? They are resolved in court. After a court ruling takes legal effect and one of the parties refuses to recognize it, court bailiffs start acting, but not police and not security forces,” he said.

“Administration representatives said at the scene that court hearings take too long and they didn’t have time to deal with this. If court hearings are too long, does this mean there should be Lynch law? And besides, these premises are not the Moscow authorities’ property but government property. The authorities attempted to settle this not in a lawful but in an arbitrary way, which is wrong,” Lukin said.