Critical Newspaper Ordered Out of Offices

City Hall is trying to evict the daily newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta from its offices in retaliation for its criticism of Mayor Yury Luzhkov, the newspaper's editor and owner said Thursday.

The newspaper received a letter from City Hall on Monday ordering it to vacate its premises on Myasnitskaya Ulitsa within one month so that repairs could be done on the building, editor and owner Konstantin Remchukov told Interfax. Two restaurants in the same building did not receive similar letters, he said.

Remchukov linked the eviction to articles criticizing Luzhkov's position on the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. Earlier this month, Luzhkov angered Kiev by calling for the port, in Ukraine, to be returned to Russia.

"We believe it is outside the mayor's authority to meddle in such issues and worsen relations between Russia and Ukraine," Remchukov said, Interfax reported.

Two unnamed sources close to City Hall confirmed that the eviction was linked to the newspaper's critical coverage of Luzhkov, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

Luzhkov spokesman Sergei Tsoi flatly denied that City Hall interfered with the media and vowed that officials would look into the situation.