Home-buyers from Russia’s northern capital, St Petersburg, have organised a demonstration in connection with the second EU-Russia Innovation Forum
in the Finnish border city of Lappeenranta on 25 May 2011. The demonstrators are holding a meeting outside Lappeenranta city hall, urging foreign investors to avoid investments in Russia.
Many ordinary citizens who have invested in new homes have lost their money in fraudulent housing projects. Svyatoslav Ivanov, one of the organisers of the demonstration, said the problem of tricked investors was a very serious one in St Petersburg, as more than 2,000 people had lost their money in projects, many of which were organised by state and municipal authorities.
Many of those who have been embezzled of their money in these housing projects have ended up homeless, in addition to being encumbered with big debts. People in St Petersburg have lost more than USD 40 million in fraudulent housing projects. Mr Ivanov noted that these were not investors who sought profit, but simply wanted to acquire better housing for their families.
For more than five years now, the cheated home-buyers have been trying to recoup their money. Yet hundreds of legal proceedings have resulted in nothing. “If your business interests run counter to the interests of Russian officials, you will lose your money. And you cannot find any support in the court system, because it is part of the system of corruption,” Mr Ivanov asserted.
“We believed St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko when she said that investments in housing projects were protected, given that the projects had the support of the city government. We believed in Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who promised that such projects had government protection. Yet we lost our money,” Mr Ivanov said.
Russia is not in a condition to receive foreign investments, the campaigners for the rights of home-buyers stated. The authorities fail to ensure protection for investment projects. Corruption, broken court system, and bad work of state institutions render investments in Russia highly risky. This situation has continued for many years, the campaigners noted.
The home-buyers urged investors from the EU to stop their investments in Russia, saying that this was the only way to exert pressure on Russian authorities. Russia needed reforms in the legal system, reforms in state management, and genuine fight against corruption. Investing in nanotechnology in a country stuck in the Stone Age was a mistake, the campaigners warned.
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