The Kremlin has called a halt to the controversial demolition of a housing estate on the banks of the River Moskva in the Russian capital
President Dmitry Medvedev is warning city housing officials to respect the rights of homeowners who have been forcibly evicted in freezing conditions.
Residents are accusing the authorities of using gangster-style tactics to acquire their land.
Sergej Bobyjev said: “The whole area is about 30 hectares and the value of our property is about one billion American dollars in pure profit. That’s why they want to remove us.”
The case has been thrown out by a court of appeal but the residents of Retchnik are hoping the highest-level government intervention will save the remaining homes.
The local authority claims Retchnik was built illegally but residents say that is a ploy to enable new developments to go ahead, providing luxury apartments for oligarchs from which officials will profit.