Chechnya: a Grozny woman reclaims her home after a five-year legal battle

posted 5 Dec 2016, 09:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Dec 2016, 09:26 ]
28 November 2016


A lawyer from the Memorial Human Rights Centre has helped achieve restoration of her ownership rights.

Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) has previously written about the problems faced by Grozny citizens in recovering their homes after having left the republic before or during the war. It is usually impossible for these citizens to reassert their rights of ownership by their own efforts; their apartments are occupied by other tenants, and if on a rare occasion a court does hand down a ruling in favour of the lawful owners, it is unlikely to be enforced.

Sultan Telkhigov, a lawyer from the Memorial Human Rights Centre has been able to achieve enforcement of a ruling by the Leninsky district court in Grozny in a case brought by Tatyana Oksenenko with the aim of evicting the tenants living unlawfully in her apartment.

Tatyana Borisovna Oksenenko, a born-and-bred resident of Grozny, left the city during the war like many of her fellow countrymen. She only returned in 2010, when she discovered that both of the apartments she owned in the city centre were occupied by other tenants. She succeeded in reclaiming one following court action, but reasserting her right to the other proved to be a difficult task.

According to Tatyana Borisovna’s account of events, in 2011 she filed an action with the court asking for the tenancy order issued by the administration of the Leninsky District of Grozny to be recognised as invalid and for the tenant living in the apartment to be evicted.

The court of first instance ruled in Oksenenko’s favour on 30 November 2011, and the ruling was upheld by the court of second instance on 15 May 2012, but was not initially enforced.

On 21 August 2013, the court ruling was lawfully enforced, but a decision was also taken to discontinue enforcement. The bailiffs evicted the respondents from the apartment, but their sister remained, since her name was not included on the court ruling and they did not therefore have the right to evict her.

Once the eviction certificate had been signed and the bailiffs had left, the respondents returned to the flat. The court ruling had been enforced in formal terms, since a record of the eviction existed, but in reality the apartment was still occupied by the previous unlawful tenants.

The next round of litigation took a long time, and to all intents and purposes the respondents continued to own the disputed apartment until May 2016.

Every time that Tatyana Borisovna arrived at the apartment with bailiffs, she would find a new tenant whose name was not included on the ruling and who could not be evicted by anyone. As soon as the bailiffs left, the respondents would return to the apartment.

Oksenenko filed another action with the court for eviction of the respondents’ sister, and the court found in her favour on 12 May 2014.

The respondents lodged applications for annulment of the court’s ruling on the basis of newly discovered evidence. Although the court refused to grant these requests, the ruling could not be enforced until they had been examined.

In November 2015, the respondents lodged a similar application with the Leninsky district court. Their lawyer, Musa Madeyev, claimed that Oksenenko had submitted falsified evidence of ownership to the court, and that when he had asked the Technical Inventory Bureau [the official property register] to verify the date on which the document had been issued, he had been told that the certificate with that registration number had been issued on a different date and for a different address.

On 10 December 2015, the court ordered that the enforcement proceedings should be suspended until a ruling had been issued on the application. Oksenenko lodged a procedural appeal against this order with the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic. On 3 March 2016, the Supreme Court annulled the order by the Leninsky district court.

Tatyana Borisovna realised that she would not succeed without legal counsel, and appealed to the Memorial Human Rights Centre in February 2016, after which the lawyer Sultan Telkhigov was assigned to her case.

The enforcement proceedings were reopened and the ruling was enforced on 26 May 2016, when all the respondents were finally evicted from the apartment.

On 29 June 2016, the Leninsky district court refused to grant the Mutayev family’s application for annulment of the court ruling on the basis of newly discovered evidence. A procedural appeal was lodged against this ruling. On 29 September 2016, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic refused to grant the appeal and upheld the order issued by the Leninsky district court on 29 June.

Tatyana Borisovna is now living in her apartment.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds