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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 2nd June 2017 > HOME, SWEET (GOVERNMENT-DEMOLISHED) HOME

HOME, SWEET (GOVERNMENT-DEMOLISHED) HOME

Moscow’s plan to forcibly relocate a million Russians could fuel opposition to Putin

UNTIL RECENTLY, Elmira Shagiakhmetova, a businesswoman in Moscow, had never been to a protest. But on May 14, she and tens of thousands of middle-class Russians took to the streets to defend something very precious to them—their homes.

Moscow authorities plan to demolish at least 5,000 apartment blocks and rehouse around 1 million people in multistory residential towers. It’s one of the largest resettlement programs in the world ever. Under legislation proposed by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a member of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, residents of buildings slated for demolition will have no choice when it comes to their new apartments, and if they do not agree to move, they will be taken to court.

The impending program, critics say, has troubling implications for the future of property rights in Russia and has sparked widespread fury. “Why the hell would I want to move from the home that I’ve lived in my whole life to the 22nd floor of some badly constructed, hellish anthill?” Shagiakhmetova, who lives in a well-constructed apartment block a short drive from Moscow’s iconic Gorky Park, tells Newsweek.

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