Billionaire to Pay Lease for Evicted Human Rights Group

MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russian billionaire-turned-politician Mikhail Prokhorov, who leads the Civil Platform party, will donate 1.5 million rubles ($45,870) to pay the annual rent for a Russian human rights group evicted from its office last weekend, a party member said on Tuesday.

Prokhorov made his pledge at a meeting with Lev Ponomaryov, leader of the For Human Rights movement.

“During the meeting, Lev Ponomaryov described in detail what had happened [in the eviction]. Today Mikhail Prokhorov will donate from his own funds 1.5 million rubles to the organization’s account,” Civil Platform’s Stanislav Kucher said. “This is slightly more than the annual rent for the office.”

The Moscow City Property Department said last week the For Human Rights movement had to vacate its Moscow office as its lease contract had allegedly expired. Ponomaryov called the group’s eviction a forcible takeover of the premises, saying the lease had been paid until late June this year.

Liberal Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin, who was present when the human rights activists were evicted from their Moscow office in the early hours of Saturday, claimed several people were injured during the eviction, including himself.

Russia’s human rights envoy Vladimir Lukin said representatives of the Moscow authorities and the Interior Ministry violated the law during the eviction.

The Moscow Interior Department said private security guards and not the police had evicted the human rights activists, and insisted they had not used force and only attended to make sure the eviction was carried out peacefully.

Prokhorov’s party has also provided its lawyers to Ponomaryov to study the authorities’ actions during the eviction, Kucher said.

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