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City Hall Seeks to Evict 2 Human Rights Groups

The lobby of Moscow Helsinki Group?€™s office on Bolshoi Golovin Pereulok as seen through the glass front door. Igor Tabakov

City Hall has asked the Moscow Arbitration Court to evict two prominent human rights groups that have criticized the Kremlin from municipally owned premises, the head of one of the groups said Friday.  

City Hall’s cultural heritage department has filed lawsuits against Moscow Helsinki Group and Goryachaya Linia, the Moscow branch of the For Human Rights group, said Lev Ponomaryov, leader of For Human Rights.

City Hall refused to extend its lease contract with Goryachaya Linia, which expired May 19, under what Ponomaryov described as the false pretext that the group had illegally refurbished its office. Calls to City Hall officials, the court and Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alexeyeva went unanswered.

Ponomaryov said he and Alexeyeva have appealed to the federal and Moscow ombudsmen, as well as the Kremlin’s human rights council, for help to prevent being evicted.

Moscow Helsinki Group occupies an office on Bolshoi Golovin Pereulok near the Sukharevskaya metro station, while the office of Goryachaya Linia is on Maly Kislovsky Pereulok, between the Pushkinskaya and Arbatskaya metro stations.

Ponomaryov and Alexeyeva have accused Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev of rolling back democratic values and failing to address human rights problems.

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