Court Closes House of the Journalist in Moscow

Domjour, the Central House of the Journalist, is being closed down.

A Moscow court has ruled that the Central House of the Journalist must shut down for three months. The news was related by Igor Yakovenko, general-secretary of the Union of Russian Journalists. Domjour provides rooms and facilities for press-conferences, seminars, concerts, and other major events.

The official reason for the decision is a breach of fire code. Yakovenko believes, however, that the actual motive is political, and that authorities are using this excuse to punish Domjour for giving the Other Russia coalition space to host their conference.

According to Yakovenko, the day before fire inspectors arrived, Domjour was visited by local militsiya officers, who demanded the organization’s financial records. More specifically, they were interested in the financial ties between Domjour and the Other Russia. Employees explained to the officers that their organization provides a platform for all views, and as such has no financial affiliation with anyone, and asked the investigators to leave.

The following day, the fire inspector arrived, and found a whole series of violations, many of which seemed excessive. “We specially looked into it, and there is not one building, or office in Moscow, where these measures are fully observed,” Yakovenko explained. “All this reminds me of Khodorkovsky’s situation. Either everyone should be punished, or no one. The selective application of the law turns the courts into an ax.

In Yakovenko’s opinion, the court’s decision was prepared long before the trial. Domjour’s administration received a physical copy literally minutes after the court made its ruling.

The head of the Union of Journalists charged, that if the decision of the court is enacted, and the House of the Journalist is closed for three months, it will never be able to revive its work. The livelihood of the building will be paralyzed, and as result, it will soon become useless.

Yakovenko has said that he will appeal to the higher court, and try to overturn the ruling. “We will do everything that is possible,” he concluded.