NGOs plan to quit Grozny’s House of Press
By Umalt Chadayev
GROZNY, Chechnya - A number of Chechen non-governmental organizations whose offices are located in the House of the Press building in downtown Grozny plan to vacate these premises early in the new year. The main reason is a sharp increase in rents.
During the past two weeks the staffs of both the independent Chechen Society newspaper and the Union of Chechen NGOs (SNO) have been evicted from their offices in the building .
The reason given for the Chechen Society eviction was some “incorrect” comments made by the paper’s editor, Timur Aliyev, on the recent Russian Duma elections. The SNO office was closed down after the organization’s director, Taisa Isayeva, refused to wear a headscarf.
However, a House of the Press official revealed in a private conversation with SNO staff that the government’s new press and information minister was not happy with material the organization had posted on its website concerning the situation with regard to the violation of human rights and freedoms in the republic.
In addition to the closure of the Chechen Society premises, the office of the Voice of the Chechen Republic newspaper edited by Timur Aliyev’s wife, Satsita Isayeva, was also sealed up. Journalists say they believe that this was done solely because Isayeva is Aliyev’s wife.
"The new minister’s arrival has created a rather nervous situation round here," an employee of a non-governmental organization whose office is located in the building told Prague Watchdog’s correspondent in an interview. “They’ve introduced some sort of pass system at the main entrance. Women not wearing headscarves are not allowed into the building. It’s difficult and even impossible to work under such conditions. "
"In addition, starting in the new year the rents are to be increased several fold, with office space costing 1,000 roubles per square metre. The monthly rent for one small room will be 10,000 roubles. That’s a totally ridiculous price", he said.
According to available reports, groups planning to quit the building include the magazine Dosh (The Word), the NGO “Echo of War” (Ekho Voiny), the Independent Press Centre and a number of other non-governmental organizations.
(Translation by DM)
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