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Russian Center To Help Citizens Protect Property Rights

WATCH: Moscow Sets Sights On Upscale Neighborhood

MOSCOW -- A Public Judicial Center is to be established in Moscow to help citizens protect their property rights, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The plan for the center was announced on February 5 by officials from the Guild of Russian Lawyers, the Federal Union of Russian Lawyers, and the Russian Public Council. It would give legal advice to people who believe their property rights are being violated and comes in response to the controversial events in the Moscow suburban settlement of Rechnik, where nearly two dozen private homes have been demolished by authorities.

On February 4, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Prosecutor-General's Office and the presidential administration to investigate if the demolition of the houses in Rechnik was lawful.

Medvedev's press secretary, Natalya Timakova, said Medvedev also ordered his administration to check if the rights of Rechnik inhabitants were violated. Moscow officials have demolished 22 private homes in the community since January 21, saying they were acting on the basis of a court decision.

On February 4, Rechnik residents filed a lawsuit against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, his wife, Yelena Baturina, and her brother Viktor Baturin, demanding 100 billion rubles (more than $3.3 billion) from them as compensation for the demolished houses and "moral suffering."

Meanwhile, some 200 residents of the Moscow community of Sokol met on February 5 to protest the construction of new buildings in the area. Sokol is in northern Moscow and is home to many artists.

The head of the northern part of Moscow, Oleg Mitvol, asked the local prosecutor's office earlier this week to check if some 30 new houses in Sokol had been legally built.