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Gazprom gets the go ahead for St. Pete skyscraper
The controversial construction has a new erection site
Alina Lobzina - Moscow News - themoscownews.com - 8.21.12 - JRL 2012-151

Gazprom's controversial skyscraper has been given the green light by St. Petersburg's authorities who approved the first stage of the gigantic project's development on Friday.

Artist's Conception of Planned Gazprom Skyscraper in St. Petersburg
file photo
The permission granted allows for the construction of a high-rise building with a stylobate, the first architectural elements of the Lakhata Center, which is set to host the headquarters of the Russian state-run energy behemoth.

Earlier, the development of a 400-meter-tall building was planned for the city's historical center, which has UNESCO world heritage site status. Protests staged by preservationists and local residents forced developers to scrap their original plans, which have now, however, been reborn.

New site

The development site has been moved 9 kilometers away from the city's protected historical zone, but the new project has also found a great number of critics.

Unlike the previous location on the bank of the Okhta River, the new plot could be used for a high-rise development, but not as high as the planned one, Alexander Kononov, deputy head of the All-Russian Society for Historical and Cultural Sites Protection told RIA Novosti.

"The fact that permission has been issued with UNESCO consultations is, from our point of view, wrong," he was quoted as saying. He added that a report on the situation is to be submitted to the World Heritage Committee.

Land yet to be surveyed

The permission was issued on Friday and expires on Dec. 27, 2017. Local heritage activists, however, pointed out that starting works immediately would be impossible since the land survey hadn't been carried out.

"It's not clear how to start construction works on the site ­ everything could be changed now," Yulia Mutina, coordinator at preservation movement Zhivoi Gorod, said on Tuesday.

She called the decision to permit construction on the site "unexpected" since a boundary survey is yet to be approved, she told RIA Novosti.

"Starting the project now before the project itself is approved bears high risks for investors, their money could just be wasted," she added.

According to the current plan, development of the ambitious project comprising of an office center, a research complex, sports facilities, children's park, shops, restaurants and other facilities is set to finish in 2018, Newsru reported.

Keywords: Russia, Government, Politics - Russia, Economy, Business, Investment, Trade - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List


With the Moscow region struggling to make land transactions less opaque and attract more corporate investment, Governor Sergei Shoigu has been ramping up rhetoric about transparency.

Sergei Shoigu file photo
file photo
He presided over the launch of an online news portal for the region at a Tuesday news conference, where he said the website will cover political campaigns and elections at the municipal and regional levels, RIA-Novosti reported.

A day earlier, the magazine Itogi published an interview with Shoigu in which he said the region "needs honest, transparent elections without underhanded methods, without dirt and without empty populist promises."

Shoigu backed the legislative changes required for direct elections in the region. "We are trying to change the situation and introduce direct elections everywhere in the region," he said. "Of course, here we're really hoping for the support of our lawmakers."

Some cities in the Moscow region do not have direct mayoral elections, and the mayor's functions are carried out by a city manager elected by the city legislature.

His statements came less than a week after Vladimir Strelchenko stepped down from his post as mayor of Khimki, a suburb north of Moscow. Strelchenko had been beset by allegations of abuse of power. Activists endured sometimes violent attacks during their campaign to keep a highway project out of the Khimki forest.

In a telling statement, the new official Moscow region website posted an RBK article on Strelchenko's resignation that mentioned the mayor's multiple scandals.

A popular election is scheduled for Oct. 14. Opposition leader and Khimki forest defender Yevgenia Chirikova has already announced that she will run for mayor, while various political parties also might put forward candidates.

At Tuesday's news conference to unveil the portal, Shoigu said the website should cover the Khimki mayoral elections, RIA-Novosti reported.

RIA-Novosti operates the new website for Moscow region news, called V Podmoskovye, or In the Moscow region.

In addition to straightening out crooked land transfers and attracting investors, Shoigu also needs to address the region's transportation jams and housing shortages, said Alexei Titkov, a professor at the Moscow Higher School of Sociological and Economic Sciences.

Interacting with constituents "is really important" for Shoigu, Titkov said.

Shoigu might have an edge in changing the political and business climates of the region, as he is a popular political figure. In a poll conducted by the independent Levada Center earlier this month and released Monday, respondents who said they view President Vladimir Putin as partially or totally replaceable named Shoigu among the top five people they could foresee taking Putin's place as the country's leader.

Shoigu tied with billionaire presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov and right-wing State Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky at 6 percent. The overall survey of about 1,600 people had a 3.4 percent margin of error.

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