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St. Petersburg, Russia, A call for solidarity with tenants in hunger strike

It has been from February 11 in a row that a twenty people strong group of tenants of house 15/2, Ilyushina street, have been holding a hunger strike action in the office of an opposition party, in the down town area of Saint Petersburg, the ‘’second capital city’’ of Russia. Please read the appeal attached and send your solidarity message to the addresses indicated therein.
An IAI call for solidarity!

The background of the protest  

The background of the protest dates back to the 1990ies, to the time when, right after the ex USSR collapsed, total and full-scale privatization began in Russia.

Back then, in the time of pro market euphoria, privatization was thought by many, by most Russians, as the only cure, a kind of a magic wand that would help resolve all the economic woes and air all the social and human grievances in my country.

It was a real pro market economy fever which turned at times into obsession.

The malady was allayed a little bit at first, just for a very short while.

However, we in Russia have seen some strange results of administering that cure.

One of the results was universal fraud that, like a rash, permeated all the areas of Russian public and economic body.

The tenants of the high rising residential house 15/2, located in Ilyushina street of Saint Petersburg, have felt that rash on their own skins.

In the mid 1990 ies, the house in which they all had received their apartments as employees of the Fourth Trust, being an affiliation of the GlavLenStroy, one of the Soviet state owned behemoth construction companies, was ‘’mysteriously’’ privatized by the management of the said company.

The trick is that the house, a former dormitory for construction workers, was privatized to no tenants’ knowledge.

On an early morning of 1995, many tenants of the house woke up ad learned on a sudden that they owed the company a lump sum of money, the market price for their small apartments.

They were also notified that if they had refused to pay they would have had to vacate their housing ‘’in a legal way’’, meaning they would have been evicted.

Some of the former tenants preferred paying to the new self styled owners to being evicted.

But the rest, about 200 of them, made a decision to resist, which is a rare case in Russia now.

Since then, many tenants of the house and their families, even those having small children and invalids, have been evicted from their apartments without being compensated adequately or with no compensation at all.

The local district court has been ruling verdicts of eviction indiscriminately, with the City Government having closed their eyes to this.

The tenants have staged numerous actions of protest in the city center, in front of the city administration and city hall offices.

Some have been arrested several times on the charges of ‘’violating public order’’ and even ‘’ endangering state security’’.

Why the hunger strike

The ongoing hunger strike is an act of last resort as the tenants seem to have exhausted all the other means and legal methods of struggle.

A group of local activists and a few journalists are also involved in their struggle.

At least two Saint Petersburg city hall deputies, Irina Komolova (former member of the CPRF) and Boris Vishnevsky (Yabloko Party) have sided with the tenants.

However, the tenants need stronger moral support and solidarity, including international.

They are determined to win and see justice and compassion in a country, where justice and human solidarity are considered to be a kind of mental insanity and even dangerous maladies.

They demand that their legal rights to adequate housing be observed.
We need your solidarity!

Your solidarity counts!

>>> Please read the appeal in attach and send your solidarity message to the addresses indicated therein.

Please spread the word!


Appeal of the tenants of the house at Ilyushina, 15/2

We, citizens of the Russian Federation, tenants of a high rise residential house located at the address: Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg, Ilyushina street, house 15, building 2, are appealing to you for help.

As of today, sixty two families (a hundred sixty people) have become outlawed – in the upcoming months we are threatened with loosing our apartments where we have lived for longer than 20 years.

We all were employees of the Lenstroykorporazia company.

The housing we were accommodated in 1992 was state owned and had the public status under the then applicable laws. The house had been constructed through state budget funds in the Soviet period, beginning from the February of 1989.

The apartments in the house were intended for the employees of the construction companies that were part of the Lenstroykorporazia group of state companies.

The apartments were granted to us as we had been put on a special list of those in need of better housing, which was a procedure typical of that time.

Under the Law, the public housing was liable to privatization by the tenants, which meant that it was to be transferred into the property of individuals, predominantly tenants of the house.


As a result of inactivity, or perhaps, due to deliberate activity perpetrated by certain officials in 1995, our apartments were registered as private property of the Chetverty Trest (the Fourth Trust) company, a legal entity, whose right to the house was not confirmed by respective legal documents.

The fact of our apartments having been part of the state residential stock can be confirmed by the respective legal documents and proved by the applicable Laws.

The City Housing Committee was obligated under the Law to sign an indefinite term public lease agreement with us, resulting in OUR further privatization of the apartments due to us.

However, in reality every executive city body and agency involved therein at the time violated the Law.

Everyone was involved in the current situation, which is intolerable as mass evictions of the house tenants have already begun.

Every illegal act and felonious inactivity has had specific personalities to blame for the situation.

The executive bodies shall under the Law enforce the applicable Laws and prevent acts of corruption. But what happens in practice?

Nobody admits the mistakes made; all the official bodies and servants have been resistant to our attempts to defend our rights that have been violated due to lawlessness and arbitrariness on behalf of the authorities; actual facts have been distorted in official documents and responses.

We have been struggling for many years to have the city authorities undertake responsibility for what has been going on; we have been striving to have our apartments back or receive equivalent housing. Under the Law, the person guilty of damaging or damnification is to compensate for the damage.

Over the years of our ordeal, we have many a time appealed to all the available power bodies and agencies for help, from the district Administration Office and to President of the Russian Federation. To our appeal to the President of the Russian Federation, we have received responses from the very bodies we have complained of.

We have been denied our legal rights. In fact, we have been suggested to forget about our rights and proceed from the current situation and face it as it is.

It is only after all the protest actions, meetings and pickets staged by us when Saint Petersburg’s Government began to offer us housing, but on the conditions of commercial lease, according to which the payment for public utilities is 15 times as high as the one under a public lease agreement. They have also offered us housing on the conditions of temporary lodging, which deprives us of any confidence in the future.

We consider such conditions to be humiliation and mockery of human rights. We were denied the legal right to our apartments, to free privatization of our apartments and now we are being told that we have nothing and we should take whatever we are offered.

We are convinced that under the Constitution of the Russian Federation: the state shall provide effective protection of our housing rights and prevent any possible violations thereof by third parties.

In case if such violations have taken place, the responsible state bodies and agencies shall act in the effective manner in order to prevent further deprivations and seek to guarantee the victims compensation for any right violated.

We proceed from the fact that this is also a problem that pertains to the international laws, agreements and conventions ratified by the Russian Federation. There is the legal foundation — Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which specifies as follows: The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.

Our constitutional rights are also violated.

Article 40 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation (everyone has the right to housing), Article 19 (everyone is equal before the Law and Court, the state guarantees equality of rights and freedoms) and Article 55 are also violated.

A number of other constitutional articles are violated, including Article 53 of the Constitution, Article 7 of Law 189-ФЗ and Law №5242-1 from 25.06.93 (the right to freedom of movement). Besides, no permanent domestic registration is allowed in temporary housing, which deprives us of the status of a resident of Saint Petersburg (residence qualification).

Our children are deprived of opportunities to have better housing as they have been robbed of their permanent place of living and they have nothing to improve now. Every person shall have the permanent place for residence.

That is why we demand that the Government compensate for the damage (we abandoned our permanent housing for the state benefit and gotten deprived of these apartments where we have lived for twenty years, due to the failure to act and negligence on the part of civil servants) by granting us adequate residential space for permanent accommodation having the status of social housing, which meets the terms of Article 53 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

We want to put an end to the practices of exercising undue lack of control and arbitrariness on the part of the city executive bodies, which are under the Law to secure legality and impeccability of their actions and decisions, and avoid mistakes in the law enforcement practices.

We demand:

  1.   that apartments and adequate housing be provided for those tenants that have lost their apartments in the house instead of that lost due to the illegal actions or inaction on behalf of the authorities; under the Law, any person, guilty of causing damage,is obligated to compensate for the damage; the legal rationale occurred in 1992;
  2.  an end be put to arbitrariness of the executive power bodies of Saint Petersburg, whose agencies are under the Law to provide for legal exactness of their actions, avoid mistakes in the law enforcement practices;
  3.  any further hardships (hunger strikes and any cause thereto) be precluded and such practices be stopped and legal compensations be granted for any legal right violated.

We are law abiding citizens. We don’t demand much, we just demand that the Law be respected; the applicable Laws are quite adequate as we deem them to be.

This is a crime – ignoring the Law at the level of the State in such a cynical way.

We are raising the voice of protest against violations of the applicable Housing Laws of the Russian Federation, Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 1966.

We have sent letters of protest against violations of our housing rights and against aggravating our housing conditions to:


Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation

103132, Moscow, Russia, Ilyinka street, house 23

Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

103274 Moscow, Krasnopresnenskaya naberezhnaya, house 2

Mr. Georgy Poltavchenko, Governor of Saint Petersburg

191060, Saint Petersburg, Smolny


Mr. Valery Shiyan

Chairperson of the Housing Committee of the Government of Saint Petersburg

Островского пл.,11,Санкт-Петербург, 191023
Phone:(812) 576-0258
Fax:(812) 576-0818


Mr. Igor Divinsky

Vice Governor of Saint Petersburg

Смольный,Санкт-Петербург, 191060
Phone:(812) 576-6262
Fax: (812)576-6263

No email address is available


Mr. Vladimir Lukin

Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Russian Federation

101000 Moscow, Myasnitskaya street, house 47


Prof. Raquel Rolnik
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing
OHCHR, Palais des Nations (PW 4-010)
1211 Geneva, Switzerland

International Alliance of Inhabitants


Tenants of the house located at the address Ilyushina street,15/2


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