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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unwelcome guests: Family moves in with firm

Of all the surprises a businessman could possibly encounter working in Russia, Georgy Markovich never anticipated live-in office guests. But that's what a knock at his door brought him Wednesday night.


Markovich, vice-president of the Yugoslavian trading and construction firm Progres, was delivered an order by the Frunze Regional Executive Committee (Ispolkom) to clear out two offices for the Pappe family, who had been assigned two apartments on Tverskaya Ulitsa 26. Progres, which has been renting office space on the 7th and 8th floors from the Diplomatic Corps Administration Bureau (UPDK) for 35 years, say they know nothing about Ispolkom's claims.


Meanwhile, the six-member Pappe family has moved in, installing a cot and electric samovar next to Progre's office furniture and Xerox machine. They say have nowhere else to live, since they left their rundown old apartment. Four Ispolkom deputies and several family friends are picketing outside by the elevators refusing to leave until the case is settled.


Markovich, who has been with the firm in Moscow for three years, called the situation "outrageous". "We have a contract with UPDK and are the rightful tenants of this office", he said. "I understand that these people want a place to live but we are accredited here and are not planning to move".


The Pappes, who left their old apartment when they received a letter from Ispolkom, have been camping at the Progres office for the past 24 hours.


At the building on Thursday afternoon, Yuri Pappe, a retired engineer, moved back and forth between bis family and friends outside in the corridor. Two police officers guarded the premises. Said officer Yuri Tsaykov, "I am not choosing sides. We are here to keep the peace".


Sitting on a stool and drinking coffee from a thermos, Ispolkom deputy Arina Kozhina said she was physically thrown out of the office by Markovich and was shocked by the way the Yugoslavs were handling the situation. "They are guests in our country. They should behave themselves accordingly. He Markovich told me I was uncivil and not a person.


"It's impossible to talk to them".


Kozbina added that the building is a residence, not an office building, and that she was not interested in UPDK policies. She said only Ispolkom has the right to allocate apartments.


Markovich, whose firm is one of Yugoslavia's largest with offices in 24 countries, says the incident has disrupted company business and is costing him lots of money. "I've had to cancel important appointments and I cannot possibly receive clients if there are seven people outside my door", he said. "They are hostile. They say they are democratically elected deputies but they are certainly not acting the part. They forced their way in a very uncivilized fashion", Imitating Kozhina and her colleagues, the tall vice president jumped on top of his desk and aggressively grabbed the telephone to illustrate the manners of the deputies.


A sales representative of Progress, Rayko Maystorovich, said he was amazed that this could happen in Russia. "This is not a way to solve a prob


lem", he sighed. "Ispolkom should have approached UPDK months ago to negotiate before bringing a family of six over here. All we know is that UPDK has guaranteed us this office. We aren't aware of any other laws".


Showing the letter she received from Ispolkom, Inga Pappe, a retired economist, says her family is entitled to be in the apartment. "We are Muscovites and have been waiting for a better place for years. We are not asking tor much just normal living conditions - a two-room apartment with a bathroom, toilet, and a phone".


Vladimir Kuznetsov, assistant to UPDK's general director, said that his organization is planning to defend the interests of the Yugoslavs. "We have long-term agreements with all local authorities", he said, adding that UPDK was investigating the matter and "not ruling out the possibility of taking the case to court".


After having left his office to negotiate with UPDK, Markovich said he returned to find the door blocked by a bed. "Now they want to cook in our kitchen. The situation is really getting out of hand".