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Protesters Detained As Hundreds Decry Plans To Demolish Soviet-Era Housing In Moscow


Russian police detain a man during a protest against the city's plan to knock down Soviet-era apartment blocs in front of the State Duma in central Moscow on June 9.

MOSCOW -- Police have detained at least three people as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Russian parliament during a vote on a controversial plan to raze thousands of Soviet-era apartment blocs in Moscow.

Deputies in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, passed the bill in the second of three readings on June 9.

The lawmakers introduced an amendment to the bill saying that if residents' councils officially disagree with the planned demolitions before the bill is adopted and signed into law, their buildings will be spared from demolition.

While lawmakers were voting, hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the State Duma, holding antidemolition posters and chanting "Shame," and "Put the renovators on trial."

Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodyn said the third and final reading will take place on June 14.

The chief of the opposition Yabloko party's Moscow branch, Sergei Mitrokhin, was among the three people arrested.

The plan calls for the demolition of 4,500 buildings erected in the 1950s and 1960s -- many of the five-story apartment buildings known as "Khrushchyovki" after Soviet-leader Nikita Khrushchev -- to be demolished and replaced with high-rise apartment buildings.

Moscow authorities say the buildings are dilapidated and outdated, but many residents and activists see the plans as an excuse for the construction of high rises in some of Moscow's leafiest neighborhoods.

A similar protest was held outside the Duma on June 6, after thousands of people protested against the plan on May 14.