“Roma plan” in Perm’: destruction of Roma houses ahead of coming winter

The right to housing is one of most basic human rights and implementation of some other human rights depends on it, including the right to education, healthcare, social welfare and friendly environment. But the rights of Roma people for proper housing are seriously violated: after several years of “calmness” the practice of destruction of Roma settlements re-emerged, even in spite of the fact that federal program for improvement of living conditions for Roma people is being implemented.

On the night of September 8-9, 2014 the head of Ordhzonikidzevsky district of Perm’ Lilia Korolyova personally supervised destruction of illegally constructed buildings on Khimikov street, in which Roma people (a total of about 300 persons) lived. 22 out of 28 houses were destroyed by bailiffs in spite of the fact that most people who lived there were Russian citizens with proper passports and were registered as dwellers of the city of Perm’. The land, on which Roma settlement was built belonged to a nearby chemical plant and Roma families settled there after moving from Yanvarskoye, a settlement they had inhabited for 30 years. The new settlers had an oral agreement with the administration of the plant that they will clean up the territory and in exchange the plant’s administration would help them to register land property in a proper way. But soon the territory in question was officially transferred to the local municipality and local administration started to claim its right for the land. In 2009 local administration and Mikhail Frunkov, representing the Roma settlement, reached a peaceful agreement on dismantling the houses that had been built. Roma dwellers were given several deadlines for implementing this agreement, which were then postponed. Each time Roma settlers hoped that the local authorities would help them legalize their houses and the conflict would be settled peacefully. But the local administration instead held a tender for dismantling of illegal housing and destruction of houses was to be carried out in due time in spite of the fact that it left 300 people, including 128 children, homeless ahead of coming winter.

Tatiana Margolina, Perm’ regional ombudsman, took this situation under her supervision. She stated that “the houses were destroyed with violations of the legally outlined period of time (as set by Article 35 of the law “On court enforcement proceedings”). Local people reported that construction equipment was employed between 9.30 a.m. and 1.30 a.m. Position adopted by the local authorities is of special concern here, as instead of providing all the necessary help to the families, they instead threatened them with taking away their children and sending them to social welfare institutions.

Unfortunately dozens of other Roma settlements in Russia find themselves in similar situations and the state authorities do not adopt necessary measures aimed at legalization of existing houses and implementation of the right to housing for Roma people.