Moscow Administration gives away multimillion-ruble state contracts to promote renovation
The funds will be spent on an information campaign to back the demolition of dilapidated housing.
The Moscow Administration is allocating tens of millions of rubles to an affiliated firm to run a campaign supporting the housing renovation. The company is Sosedi (Neighbors) LLC, associated with the Property Department of the city of Moscow. Sosedi employees manage a public page called “Za snos” (Pro-demolition) on Vkontakte social network, reported the online outlet Lapshesnimalochnaya.
According to Kontur-Focus, Sosedi LLC was founded by Media Management LLC, which, in turn, belongs to Moscow Information Technologies (MIT) JSC. The owner of 51% of MIT authorized capital is the Moscow City Property Department.
MIT JSC was established in 2004 for "information support" of Moscow’s projects. The company promotes the initiatives that the City Hall wants it to promote, on the Internet. In 2014, Anonymous International hackers made public internal correspondence of MIT employees. It focused on the prices for certain materials to be published in major media. According to the reports, the quarterly budget for the initiative amounted to 160 million rubles ($2.8m).
MIT’s work resulted in publications reporting of 35 thousand people coming out for a rally in support of the demolition of dilapidated housing. The stories came out approximately at the same time (May 14-15) in several outlets: Moskovsky Komsomolets, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Vechernyaya Moskva, and Nezavisimaya Gazeta. All the articles had a similar content and comments from the same experts, including political scientist Oleg Matveychev, who became known after he said the oppositionists should be "winded on tank caterpillars".
Sosedi LLC oversees the work of pro-government communities in social networks, which, however, are not officially associated with the capital's leaders. The communities delete comments from renovation opponents, but all the information from the site of Moscow mayor's office is posted. According to Kontur-Focus, Sosedi received two state contracts for 13 million rubles ($230.000). However, according to the agency, Sosedi is just one of a dozen inter-connected structures that have been systematically receiving state contracts for various amounts of money; 7, 10 and 39 million rubles have been mentioned. The article’s author believes that the Moscow administration spends about one billion rubles ($17.7m) a year on informational support of its projects.
Saburova believes that the Russian authorities violated articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guaranteeing the right to life, as well as the right to freedom and personal inviolability.