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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

School Under Siege for 3rd Day




ST.PETERSBURG -- Children and teachers occupied their Christian school for a third day Wednesday as police officers stood guard outside the building just off Nevsky Prospekt.


The more than 40 children and several dozen teachers and parents were defying a court order to annul the school's lease.


From time to time, children jumped in and out of the windows, playing a cat-and-mouse game with police officers clad in combat fatigues - who didn't try very hard to catch them. Police reinforcements sat in a bus nearby.


The standoff began Monday, when police blocked access to the building after the St. Petersburg Arbitration Court decided to annul the unlimited, rent-free lease that city officials gave to the Society for Open Christianity in 1991.


The society has refurbished the building and used it to run a charity-funded, nondenominational Christian school. But city officials changed their mind and launched a court battle to take the building back, saying they want to turn it into a clinic for army officers.


School representatives allege that the city really wants to profit from the building's valuable, central location.


Some teachers and pupils got inside the building just before the police sealed it on Monday and vowed to stay until the city provides a building of the same size.


More managed to get inside early Wednesday, when police briefly lifted their siege for unknown reasons.


So far, police haven't tried to forcefully evict the building's occupants. However, officers broke a metal grid on a window and entered the school late Tuesday to check documents.