Squatter development of Crimea: will VIP property be subject to demolition?

Squatter development of Crimea: will VIP property be subject to demolition?

This autumn a demolition of squatter settlements located on the coast will be launched in Crimea. However, local residents are skeptical about these measures affecting the high-ranking owners of mansions.

September 1, the Crimean government will launch demolition of illegal structures. According to the Chief Architect of Crimea Alexandr Kuznetsov, there are about 30 thousand illegally constructed objects on the entire peninsula. About 6 thousand settlements will be demolished this autumn. As reported by RBC, approximately 1.3 billion rubles will be spent for these purposes. Incidentally, the commission on curbing unauthorized construction set up in April is still assessing the number of structures subject to demolition. Moreover, according to the chief architect of the Republic, the 100-m seaside cleaning will be followed by that of 500-m. “This is a continuous work, and it is the first two pilot objects. Next year, it is planned to develop a zonation for the entire coastline; this document will clearly define what structures may be built in the first coastal zone, i.e. up to 100 meters, the second zone of 500 meters, and the third zone of up to 3 kilometers,” said Aleksandr Kuznetsov.

The fact that facilities located in the 100-meter area from the coast, which disturb the community, will be demolished, was announced by the Head of Republic Sergey Aksenov as early as July. However, it is not known whether the demolition will affect the luxury villas along with the modest structures of Crimean residents, who are far from being oligarchs.

According to Novaya Gazeta, just in Foros there are multiple facilities that fall within the definition given by Aksenov; that is, they “disturb” the public.

For example, the summer house of the former Minister of Justice of Ukraine and Verkhovna Rada Deputy Nikolay Onishchuk, erected during the reign of Yanukovych. Although, access to the sea through the aforementioned house (dubbed the White dacha by locals) is currently free.

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Photo: summer house of former Minister of Justice of Ukraine Nikolay Onishchuk (photo by Novaya Gazeta)

On the contrary, no one is allowed to enter the beach at Terletskiy recreation and retreat center, owned by the Russian bank VTB since 2003. Moreover, according to local residents, a larger part of the beach is empty, as due to the recreation center’s capacity, the number of visitors is not enough to occupy all the territory.

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Photo: fenced beach at Terletskiy recreation and retreat center owned by VTB (photo by Novaya Gazeta)

Novaya Gazeta added, that it was trying to find out whether these structures were included in the list of buildings to be demolished. However, it has yet to receive a response to its request of July 19 from the Deputy Head of Crimea Oleg Kazurin, responsible for the inventory of objects at the coastal zone.  

It should be noted that it has been over a year since combatting squatter settlements has begun. But the measures have been one-off all along. Moreover, in some places illegal construction continues after the Russian annexation of Crimea. For example, according to the Obshestvennoe televidenie Rossii (Russian Public Television), new buildings are being built at Primorskiy Park, Alushta, under the guise of reconstruction work. Furthermore, the municipal authorities and the region’s architectural and construction inspection granted an official permission for this.  

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Photo: Alushta coast

In certain cases, transformation of ownership takes place under the pretext of fighting squatter settlements. RBC cited a story of a cafe owner in Yalta. Firstly, according to the owner, she rented the building from the Amenity Department of Yalta City Council. That is, the building, which was declared illegal, was a city property. Secondly, there is now a new public catering spot with a new owner on the site where her cafe Smak, demolished on May 15, was located. 

We shall note that the Yalta Amenity Department was liquidated in February. Its legal successor is the Obyedinennaya Upravlyayushchaya Kompaniya (United Management Company) Municipal Unitary Enterprise. Apparently, to show its power, the company cut off electricity and water for the café located on the beach.

However, it is the discrepancy between the Ukrainian and Russian legislation, which is the main stumbling block. After all, Crimean businessmen obtained most of the building permits from the previous administration. Which was, in fact, more liberal. However, judging by the example of shopping pavilions demolition in Moscow, which took place on February 9, no official papers may grant protection. On the Night of the Long Bucket, some owners of condemned shops and cafes showed their permits. However, the Moscow government did not recognize their validity on the pretext the permits had been obtained from the corrupt officials of the former City Hall.

Virtually the entire coastal area of the peninsula is the bread and butter of the local population. Cafes, shops, and small guest houses have been a family business run for decades. Therefore, even if the Crimean budget suffers a loss from the destruction of small businesses (as of 2015, this income item was only 1%) as claimed by the local authorities, it will receive increased social tension in return.

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