Ust-Abakan District Court in Khakassia Bans Demolition of Roma Homes

February 21, 2019 – Ust-Abakan District Court in the Republic of Khakassia rejected a claim filed by the administration of Ust-Abakan regarding the demolition of 10 unauthorized structures belonging to Roma people.

In May 2018, a tragedy occurred forcing 500 Roma people to flee the settlement where they had lived for almost 20 years. After they fled, local residents organized a pogrom of their homes with the silent agreement of both the settlement’s administration and law enforcement.

After returning to their ransacked homes several months later and attempting to repair them, the Roma faced demands for their forced eviction from the local administration. Again, the Roma community started receiving threats from unknown persons. In September, two Roma homes burned down—the result, according to officials at the Ministry of Emergency Situations, of arson.

The land that the administration allocated for Roma to build homes on in the early 2000s became the subject of a dispute and further court proceedings between the administration and the Roma people, with the administration demanding that the Roma abandon the land because the structures were unauthorized.

On September 24, 2018, the settlement’s administration filed a claim with the Ust-Abakan District Court to demolish 10 structures belonging to Roma people. The administration’s arguments were based on the fact that several homes were located in the buffer zone of a sewage pipe and were built in violation of zoning rules, which, in the opinion of officials, demonstrated the need for their demolition.

The interests of residents of the Roma settlement in this case were defended by Valery Zaytsev with support from ADC Memorial. Zaytsev proved that the administration’s arguments about the lack of proper documents for the structures and the presence of a sewage pipe on the tabor’s territory were not sufficient to warrant a decision on demolition. Thus, the court adopted a decision to reject the claim.

ADC Memorial welcomes the court’s decision to ban the demolition of the Roma settlement, but is concerned by the administration’s attempts to deprive several dozen people of their only housing without offering any alternative. This practice, which contravenes the principles of human rights and is banned by the European Convention, must end without delay. ADC Memorial calls upon the government of the Republic of Khakassia to adopt measures to prevent demolition in the future, legalize existing homes, and, if it is not possible to preserve these homes, provide alternative housing.