Chernov’s Choice (English-Language Media on the Gazprom Tower)


"Beauty Will Kill the World"


Intrepid blogger, music critic, and St. Petersburg Times journalist Sergey Chernov has assembled a list of English-language publications on the Gazprom tower project (Okhta Center) and the scandals, protests, and resistance campaigns around it. You can access the list here.

While he was compiling the list, Chernov noticed something funny, to wit:

It is telling that the press section of the English-language version of Okhta Center’s official site is empty (as accessed on Oct. 18, 2009).

Although Gazprom knows how to deal with the Russian media when placing publicity stories, it looks as if it is largely impotent in the field of international media.

Most of the international publications express critical opinions about the RMJM-designed 400-meter tower project that is supposed to be built close to St. Petersburg’s historical center. Actually, we have found only two articles praising the Okhta Center skyscraper: one by Tony Kettle, UK Managing Director of RMJM and lead architect on the project; and another by a certain Karim Yergaliyev, on the Inhabitat blog.

Complete with RMJM’s colorful CGI images of the tower, the posting, reprinted on a few other blogs, shamelessly praises the tower for its alleged beauty and eco-friendliness, but a quick Google search showed that the “19-year-old Washington resident Karim Yergaliyev” was previously caught planting “phony stories on behalf of marketers.”

You don’t say! Are we to take it that one of the world’s richest corporations is paying an American teenager to plant positive stories about its lousy skyscraper on the Web?

While you’re contemplating how that is even possible, check out Chernov’s own report on the October 10 demonstration in Petersburg against the skyscraper and other diseases of faux-urbanism. Despite our fears that the demo against Tony Kettle’s brainchild would be kettled, the turnout was huge by Russia’s current dismal standards, and the police laid back.

* Photo courtesy of Sergey Chernov. More of his photos from the October 10 demo here, here, and here.

1 Comment

Filed under activism, protests, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)

One response to “Chernov’s Choice (English-Language Media on the Gazprom Tower)

  1. I am the publisher of the blog INHABITAT.COM and I would like to inform you that this allegation that Karim was paid by Gazprom to write this story is totally inaccurate and baseless. If you read the article on Inhabitat carefully, you will see that it does not praise the proposal – it simply reports what we read in the press release as a news story.

    “Officially called the Okhta Tower, the eco skyscraper is supposed to be “one of the most environmentally sustainable high rise buildings in the world,” according to the RMJM’s press release.”

    We received a press release about this proposal a few years ago, and thought the proposed tower was noteworthy and worth a quick mention on our website, which is about green architecture. We had no hidden agenda or hidden connections to RMJM or Gazprom. I stand by the editorial integrity of my publication, and would appreciation a retraction / correction.

    Thank you,

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