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City news, 19.06.2004 16:15

Shvydkoi Backs Plans To Give City Palaces

palaces Most of the city's palaces, nationalized after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, are still state-owned, but not all are under the control of the city. Many are owned by the Defense Ministry.

"In principle, we are not against decreasing the level of their status," Shvydkoi was quoted as saying at a meeting about St. Petersburg's social and economic problems on Tuesday.

Giving the city a say on what happens to historical monuments may become one of the ways to save the buildings, many of which are in disrepair.

"We should pass the city as many monuments as it can cope with," he said.

But to change the status of the buildings from state-owned to private, which Governor Valentina Matviyenko has promoted as a way of saving the city's decaying palaces from ruin, will require legislative changes, the former culture minister added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, who was in St. Petersburg for the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, said that there will be a special meeting on privatization of historic monuments in Moscow soon.

"Both St. Petersburg and Moscow are interested in that quickest resolution of that issue," Fradkov said.

Every 10th historical building in Russia is in St. Petersburg, but City Hall does not have the money to pay for their restoration, Matviyenko said in May, when she proposed selling them off to the highest bidders.

The idea has caused controversy over fears that new owners will misuse the buildings.

Many experts referred to the gloomy example of Moscow, where a number of historically valuable buildings were destroyed after being privatized and modern commercial real estate was built in their place.

Matviyenko's announcement of the privatization program was linked by critics to her decision to allocate oil giant Lukoil a palace and 60 gas station sites without any tender.

The city's gasoline retailers continued this week to cry foul over the gas-station allocation to Lukoil.

News source:

(c) 2000