MOSCOW -- Police and militia units have forcibly taken over the riverside housing settlement of Rechnik in suburban Moscow to end a controversial standoff, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
Residents who had been guarding their homes were detained and later released by police on January 21, and boat-docking facilities were destroyed by officials. RFE/RL reports that authorities have begun destroying houses in the area.
On January 22, police and members of the OMON militia were continuing to keep homeowners away from their properties as demolitions continued.
A coordinator of the Left Front movement in Rechnik, Sergei Udaltsov, told RFE/RL the homeowners have gathered to protest the demolition operation.
The settlement was founded in 1957 before it became incorporated into Moscow and the area was given preservation status.
After the homes at the site are demolished, developers intend to build neighborhoods of high-priced villas.
Police said they are implementing a court decision to move people from the area, but residents say the court verdict to demolish 18 houses in Rechnik is illegal since the owners of the houses were not invited to contest the matter in court and were unaware of the court's decision.
Aleksandr Brod, the director of Moscow's Bureau for Human Rights, said he is ready to assist any local citizen who was beaten or insulted by police. The leader of the For Human Rights movement, Lev Ponomarev, also noted that carrying out a court order should not lead to citizens being maltreated.