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Housing, the Constitution in Russia is not for everyone

On December 12, the Russian Constitution Day Svetlana Petrova, a tenant at Ilyushina street in Saint Petersburg, Russia, staged protest: she evacuated herself on her own to the stair well of the apartment which does not belong to her due to bureaucratic connivance and illegal dealings perpetrated by the Fourth Trust Joint Stock Company.

On December 12, the Russian Constitution Day, when Vladimir Putin stated ‘’the highest status of civil rights and freedoms’’, Svetlana Petrova, a tenant of house 15, building 2, located at Ilyushina street in Saint Petersburg, Russia, staged protest.

Svetlana Petrova evacuated herself on her own to the stair well of the apartment which does not belong to her due to bureaucratic connivance and illegal dealings perpetrated by the Fourth Trust Joint Stock Company, one of the local construction companies. She did that after she had been informed that the illegal ‘’landlord’’ (the self-styled owner of the house) was going to sue her and other remaining tenants in court for their alleged ‘’illegal enrichment’’.

According to Article 1102 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, if a person (purchaser) acquires or conserves property in a way that is against the Law or other legal applicable acts or in any other illegal way, at the expense of another person(complainant),  this person is bound to return or reimburse to the latter the property that has been acquired or purchased illegally (ungrounded enrichment), regardless of the fact if this illegal enrichment results from the purchaser’s behavior or the complainant’s behavior or behavior of third parties or this has occured against their will.

- Svetlana has evacuated herself in order to let the owner have an opportunity to sell the apartment she has been occupying, - Marina Kozhina, a tenant of the Ilyushina house is quoted as saying to the local media. Marina is also likely to join Svetlana soon as she also occupies an apartment in the same house 15, building 2, and her accommodation is said to be illegal according to various verdicts ruled by local courts. She, like other 11 families living in the same house, refuses to move to another municipal house provided to her on the so called specialized tenancy, which strips her (them) of their constitutional rights.

- In order to satisfy the suit brought by the Fourth Trust, we will have to pay half a million Rubles –which is about the amount of compensation for the lost profit suffered by the house ‘’owner’’. - This financial burden unbearable for us, - she adds.

The Ilyushina house tenants insist that their constitutional rights are violated.

- According to Article 19 of the Russian Constitution, all citizens are equal in exercising their rights in court and before the Law. Why are the problems the Ilyushina tenants, who have found themselves in a similar predicament, resolved on different footing? Why have some tenants received housing on the social tenancy rights, which is permanent housing, and other tenants, most of them, are offered housing, as compensation for their current accommodation, as temporary (‘’specialized tenancy’’) ? – this question is asked by those tenants of the Ilyushina, 15/2, house who were granted their apartments as the builders of Leningrad for their labor merits and who have been deprived of their housing due to negligence of corrupt officials.

Article 40 of the Russian Constitution states that everyone has the right to housing and nobody may be deprived of such housing arbitrarily.

- Why are people who were employed in Leningrad construction sites evicted from the apartments they have occupied for as long as 20 years? – the Ilyushina house tenants ask. – And according to Article 53 of the Russian Constitution, everyone has the right to compensation for the damage caused through illegal actions (or inaction) of the state power bodies or their officials. Why are officials in this situation persistent and not willing to be held responsible for the mistakes they made? Why, instead of the permanent housing lost, are we offered temporary housing?

Marina Kozhina told the local media that all the Ilyushina tenants still living in their apartments are expected court verdicts of their eviction to be enforced but the court marshals are not eager to enforce them as obviously they are not willing to draw attention to this long standing problem. However, the Fourth Trust company have found their own way of resolving this problem. In order to bridle the unbridled Ilyushina tenants, the ‘’businessmen’’ from the Fourth Trust company have initiated suing those tenants who resist lawlessness charging them of illegal enrichment.

- Besides that the tenants are to be forcefully evicted  to temporary housing from which they can easily be thrown to the street later, they can be left high and dry with huge debts, - Marina Kozhina is quoted as saying.

Svetlana Petrova, Marina’s neighbor and one of the Ilyushina house tenants, has made up her mind to evacuate herself to a cold stair - well to avoid celebrating the New Year with debts. Thanks God, the stairs, well corridors and land the house stands on are not owned by the Fourth Trust, and it is the apartments only that have been privatized by the company. Svetlana made her decision to evacuate herself on the Constitution Day on purpose, to demonstrate that the Main Law in Russia might be good but it does not work.



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