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Russian Duma Approves Plan to Raze Soviet-Era Apartment Blocks

  • RFE/RL

The Russian State Duma has voted its final approval of controversial legislation to demolish thousands of Soviet-era apartment buildings in Moscow.

Lawmakers in the 450-seat lower parliament house passed the bill on June 14 by a vote of 399 to 2, with one abstention, as police detained protesters outside the Duma in central Moscow.

The chief of the opposition Yabloko party's Moscow branch, Sergei Mitrokhin, was among those detained at the latest in a series of protests against the plan.

Despite opposition from many Muscovites who say the state is infringing on property rights and individual freedoms, the bill is expected to be passed by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

The bill calls for some 4,500 buildings erected in the 1950s and 1960s -- many of them five-story blocks known as 'Khrushchyovki' after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev -- to be demolished and replaced with high-rises.

Moscow authorities say the buildings are dilapidated and outdated, but many residents and activists see the plans as an excuse for the lucrative construction of high-rises in an already congested city whose green spaces are shrinking.

Similar protests were held outside the Duma on June 6 and June 9, and thousands of people demonstrated against the bill on May 14.

With reporting by Dozhd TV, Interfax, and TASS
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