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Thousands protest demolition of Soviet-era housing in Moscow

May 14 (UPI) — Thousands in Moscow protested Sunday against Russian government plans to demolish thousands of Soviet-era apartment buildings, a move that could displace 1.6 million people.

Demonstrators called for the resignation of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, the primary proponent of replacing 4,500 buildings for modern apartment blocks. Russian President Vladimir Putin also supports the project.

The crowd also chanted: “Hands off our property!”

No arrests were reported, but opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was blocked by police when trying to take to the stage.

Supporters say the project will replace inadequate housing with higher quality homes while opponents claim their rights are being ignored. Opponents fear being forced from their neighborhoods and not being fairly compensated by the government.

The renovation plan does not guarantee residents will receive a new home of the same value in the same area, only a new apartment of the same size.

The Soviet-era low-rises are known as ” Khrushchyovka” after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who ordered construction of the pre-fab buildings in the early 1960s.

Many have fallen into disrepair and Moscow has already demolished some of the buildings.

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