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MOSCOW, June 22 (Itar-Tass) - Police have stormed the office of the movement “For Human Rights”, leader of the organization Lev Ponomaryov told Itar-Tass.
Ponomaryov said OMON policemen broke into the premises, pulled him out by force, beat him and forced him out of the building. Together with him, Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin was in the office. According to Ponomaryov, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin attempted to get into the office seized by police, but policemen did not allow him to enter.
Earlier, the press service of the Moscow property management agency told Itar-Tass that the premises occupied by human rights activists in Building 7, Maly Kislovsky Pereulok are property of Moscow. The tenancy term expired on February 15, 2013.
The demand to empty the premises was not satisfied. In this connection, an operation was conducted on June 21 to free the office, a departmental official explained. The city has rights, and it exercises them, press secretary of the head of the Moscow property relations department Yekaterina Sinyukova noted.
Ponomaryov believes the officials’ actions are unlawful. “We really have a property dispute, but until there is a court ruling, we have the right to remain in the premises,” he said. “Officials with police broke in. They change the locks, demand to leave the office. Now they are putting a new lock into the door to my office room, Ponomaryov told Itar-Tass late on Friday.
Itar-Tass did not receive comments from the law-enforcement authorities about the storming of the office.
The movement For Human Rights was established in November 1997. By 2012, it united 120 human rights organizations from most of the Russian regions.