Russian Parliament Adopts Bill on Demolition in Moscow

Moscow (AP) -- The Russian parliament on Wednesday adopted a much-disputed bill that would allow Moscow's City Hall to pull down Soviet-era apartment blocks and relocate 1.6 million people.

The State Duma passed the bill overwhelmingly while dozens rallied outside, chanting "For shame!" Police snatched several people from the crowd and took them to a police van.

The controversial plan would allow Moscow City Hall to pull down entire neighborhoods, involving more than 4,500 blocks. The redevelopment project, arguably Russia's largest, has rattled many in Moscow who see the plans as an encroachment on their constitutional rights and a ruse to evict them from leafy neighborhoods to high-rise ones on the city's outskirts.

City Hall insists that the buildings are dilapidated and their maintenance too costly. Thousands of people took to the streets last month to protest the plans in what was described as the city's largest non-political protest in years.

The bill now has to secure the approval of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament and be signed by President Vladimir Putin.

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