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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rent's Due on Radical Writer's Club




You have to squeeze through this tiny metal door. The door leads to a labyrinth of dim basement rooms lined with pictures of a wounded Vladimir Lenin, bearded Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara, sewer pipes and red, white and black banners. On one of them, a guy with a shaved head points a revolver at you. "Everybody under the banners of the National-Bolshevik Party!" a slogan says. The Russian imperial double-headed eagle is crowned with a Bolshevik star.


Here, on 2nd Frunzenskaya Ulitsa, revolution mixes with punk, "socialism or death" is the motto and "fascism" is not a dirty word. It is the headquarters of Eduard Limonov, an acclaimed writer turned radical Bolshevik nationalist.


Limonov returned to Russia in 1992 after leaving the Soviet Union in 1974 in search of artistic freedom and spending almost two decades in France and the United States. Apart from his fervent nationalism and some bizarre political escapades such as a trip to Yugoslavia to fight on the Serb nationalists' side, his greatest claim to fame is his book, "It's Me, Eddie."


But the inhabitants of this den of world revolution have a more immediate problem. The Moscow city government is trying to evict them because they cannot pay the rent.


The city's Central Territorial Agency, the Moscow organization that handles rental agreements, has filed two suits with the Moscow Arbitration Court asking for the payment of 27,000 rubles ($4,500) in back rent since March 1997 and for Limonov's eviction.


Limonov, whose income comes from his writings, admits he owes the 27,000 rubles, but says he just doesn't have the cash. "I get $4,000 for a book. But I don't write books every year."


Limonov has promised several times to pay the money, but has always failed to do so. Yet the Moscow government is reluctant to put too much pressure on the famous writer for fear that it would generate bad publicity.


Larisa Podavalova, the head of the legal department at the Central Territorial Agency, was reluctant to discuss the case and, even though litigation is still pending, insisted that the dispute had been solved. "We already reported to Luzhkov and Tolkachev [director of the Moscow Property Management Committee] that the conflict is resolved."


The official lessor of the basement is Arktogeya, a self-styled "historical-religious association" which publishes Limonov's newspaper Limonka.


Limonka -- whose name is a Russian slang term for a hand grenade -- is a four-page newspaper filled with scenarios for armed revolutionary uprisings, recipes for Molotov cocktails and reviews of bombings, accidents and crashes each rated for their artistic quality.


Limonov and Dugin first got the space in 1995 after writing to Yury Luzhkov, warning him it was in his interests to give them a permanent base rather than have them running around town.


But in 1996, the rent was raised by 10 times. The debts mounted but Sergey Belyak, a lawyer who represents Limonov along with Vladimir Zhirinovsky and other colorful personalities, said that the city's bureaucrats only decided to kick Limonov out toward the end of last year after he formed his alliance with Anpilov and Terekhov.


Limonov concedes he will likely have to sign another lease, and his various revolutionary organizations will settle for a small corner of the basement.


"We are still in the midst of delicate negotiations," said Limonov. "The bureaucrats can always find how to pick on you. The depths of Russian bureaucracy are immeasurable and all sorts of poisonous flowers grow there."