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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paper's Office Sealed Off Due to Rent Arrears

Moscow police sealed off the premises Wednesday of Federatsiya newspaper in central Moscow because of failure to pay rent. One of the policemen guarding the newspaper's fourth floor office said police had received an order from Vyacheslav Leontyev, director of the publishing house Pressa, to prevent employees from entering. Pressa owns the building where about 10 newspapers and magazines, including The Moscow Times, are published. Federatsia, which is published three times a week, has only put out one issue since October when it lost its sponsorship by the Supreme Soviet after President Boris Yeltsin dismissed the parliament. The paper has a staff of about 100, which continued to work and be paid even though the paper failed to publish. Sergei Trunov, a spokesman for Yeltsin, said the eviction was strictly commercial and not political. "The newspaper has a rent debt which it has not paid," a policeman who declined to be named said. "We were ordered not to let the newspaper's employees in." Andrei Yablokov, deputy head of the newspaper, said the newspaper's debt was 120 million rubles (about $ 63,000) but it was not a reason "just to throw people out in the street and, practically, to eliminate the newspaper." Yablokov said he had had a talk with Leontyev last Friday and received a letter from him which informed the newspaper staff to leave their premises by June 1 to make room for the newspaper Segodnya to take over the premises. Yablokov said they were ordered to leave their computers, which he valued at $305,000, and other equipment which "will belong to the publishing house. I am sure it is illegal." Svetlana Galetova, a spokeswoman for Segodnya, said she had heard "only rumors" about a possible move into the Pravda building but at present the paper was not going to change offices.