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City news, 23.04.2004 14:44

Privatization plan to save old palaces

Fontany Dom More than 2,000 historical buildings in the center of St. Petersburg, including several dozen dilapidated palaces, will be privatized within the next few years, Governor Valentina Matviyenko says.

Privatization is the only way to save the historical center because the state does not have the money to save the buildings, she added.

"[Many businessmen] have been saying that if they owned palaces that they rent, they wouldn't be afraid to invest in renovation," Matviyenko said Saturday after inspecting run-down buildings in the central Admiralteisky district.

"There is no doubt we should be careful that the architectural impression of the city does not change, but we should not allow architectural monuments to fall apart," she said.

Matviyenko ordered officials to draft a law that would allow the city to sell historical buildings.

The first buildings scheduled for privatization after the law comes into force are on the Znamenka estate located on the Peterhof highway, 27 kilometers from the city center and currently occupied by a hotel and recreation area. Other sites due to be privatized first include the Kochubei Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, where a restaurant is located, and Fontany Dom, which houses the apartment-museum of Anna Akhmatova.

The "most priceless monuments," including the State Hermitage Museum, the State Russian Museum, the Kunstkamera, St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Peterhof Museum and the Peter and Paul Fortress will remain state owned.

According to the city's architectural memorial protection committee, the plan is to sell historical buildings for only half their market value. New owners will be obliged to renovate the buildings and provide public access several times a year.

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