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Rights Activists Refuse to Leave Moscow Center


The Moscow Helsinki Group disagrees with the proposal made by the Moscow authorities to move its headquarters to the south of Moscow.

"We are not going there, and that's it," Moscow Helsinki Group Director Lyudmila Alekseyeva told Interfax on Tuesday.

Two leading Russian human rights organizations earlier said they could suspend their operations due to lease problems in Moscow.

The Moscow property department earlier said the lease contract with the Moscow Helsinki Group had expired and the lease could not be expended because the building where it is now headquartered is subject to reconstruction. The Moscow authorities said the Moscow Helsinki Group has been offered an office in the southern part of Moscow.

"We don't accept this proposal," Alekseyeva said.

"We are being evicted. We will resist," Alekseyeva said, adding that the human rights activists have turned for help to the human rights ombudsman, the Moscow ombudsman, and the head of the presidential council promoting the development of civil society institutes and human rights in Russia.

The Moscow property department also said the lease contract with the Moscow regional division of the movement For Human Rights had expired in summer 2009. The department says it has requests from many people who live in the building currently occupied by the movement, who the Moscow property department says are asking for the lease contract with the movement not to be extended.

Lev Ponomaryov, the head of the movement For Human Rights, said: "There have been no complaints about us. They are just trying to evict us." Apparently, "someone needs this office," he said.

"We are surprised by the tough pressure put on our organizations, Ponomaryov said.

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