Russia: Sakharov Centre receives an eviction order

The Sakharov Centre receives an eviction order




The Moscow City Property Department has issued a notice to the Sakharov Centre for the termination of the lease on all its premises. Under the law on foreign agents, the Centre (which is listed on the foreign agents register) cannot receive State support.


The Centre’s main building, exhibition hall and apartment in a house on Zemlyanoy Val are being seized, having been leased from the city free of charge.


The premises were given to the Centre in 1993 and 1996 and have hosted educational meetings, memorial evenings and public debates. There is a permanent museum exhibit and a library that holds books on contemporary Russian history and on the life and work of the academician Andrei Sakharov.


The apartment where Sakharov lived (Zemlyanoy Val, house no. 486) houses his archive containing all the nuclear physicist and human rights activist’s papers, together with thousands of letters from all over the former Soviet Union. “A unique museum dedicated to Sakharov’s life was created in that apartment. Built into that space, the exhibition creates a special environment that draws the visitor into the life story of this great compatriot”, said a statement issued by the Centre.


The design of the museum hall in the Centre’s main building won the Best Interior Design Award in the Moscow Architecture Competition of 1997.


“For many years, the Sakharov Centre has been a unique public venue, providing a forum where people could discuss and develop projects in implementing a wide range of public initiatives. Today, the history of the Centre as we have known it for a quarter of a century is coming to an end”, say human rights activists.


The Centre’s Director Sergei Lukashevsky told Kommersant that they will not be taking any legal action against the Moscow mayor’s office over the eviction order.


The Centre is preparing to move out but, before doing so, it plans to hold a celebration to mark the centenary of the birth of the human rights activist Yelena Bonner. “And we will have time to arrange this in the space she created”, the organisation added.


Earlier, a court fined the Sakharov Centre five million roubles on ten administrative counts under Part 2 of Article 19.34 of the Federation’s Administrative Code (failure to put a foreign agents label on material produced and distributed by an organisation). The Centre has since stated that the fine imposed by the court is unaffordable.



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