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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Steps Up Pressure In Fight to Claim Dacha

ST. PETERSBURG -- Court officials swooped in on the headquarters of an American-Russian joint venture this week, seeking to complete an eviction process that has pitted the firm against President Boris Yeltsin's office over control of a prestigious dacha.

"They actually sealed us into the building," Dan Mead, a consultant for SGC Inc. and a partner of the KOC Security company, said Friday. Its sister company, Kamenny Ostrov Co., which supplies law-enforcement equipment, has been engaged in a struggle with local and federal officials for the right to retain control over or get compensation for its headquarters, which adjoins a dacha complex eyed by the presidential procurement office as a VIP residence.

According to Mead, Petrograd District Court bailiff Lidiya Barkanova appeared early Wednesday with eight police officers and a number of bailiffs, demanding that the three-story building used as a residence by KOC president Franz Sedelmayer, who is out of the country, be vacated.

Following four hours of negotiations between Barkanova and Gustavo Mehija, a U.S. Consulate security officer, the bailiff agreed to give KOC enough time to pack its things and move out, after which the seals were temporarily removed. "We mediated enough of a compromise so that there was no aggressive action against [KOC]," Mehija said.

Mead said workers were forced to abandon moving attempts Thursday night, leaving the firm's safe on the premises with the possibility of returning to retrieve it Monday. The firm plans to continue its work out of the remaining unsealed floor in the neighboring building and a new site currently under renovation for KOC Security.

Wednesday's action further curtailed KOC's use of the premises in a conflict that began in December 1994, when a presidential decree turned the former police dacha over to the procurement office as part of plans to renovate the neighboring olive-green dacha into a government leisure residence.

KOC, founded as a joint venture between SGC International and the local police department, says its lease on the dacha runs through 2016, but it is now limited to using one floor of one building in the three-building complex.

Mead reasserted the company's willingness to cooperate provided it receives adequate compensation. "Never at any time did anyone refuse to leave," he said, as long as compensation was offered.

The firm maintains that it invested $800,000 to renovate the buildings.