We have decided to translate and post the following long article by Petersburg journalist and Yabloko Party activist Boris Vyshnevsky on the Gazprom skyscraper controversy not because we agree with his politics (except when it comes to resisting the skyscraper and the overall savage “redevelopment” being visited on the city), but because it is simply the most detailed and complete account of the whole ugly story out there. We will soon be posting on the recent (successful!) demonstration to defend Petersburg that Vyshnevsky describes at the end of the article. In the meantime, check out the second half of our most recent post on the topic to find out what you can do to aid the people of Petersburg.
Saint Petersburg versus Gazputinburg
A living city gathers its forces for the struggle with a dead city
In the mid-eighties, in what was then still known as Leningrad, a civic resistance movement emerged: people joined forces to defend two historic landmarks – the poet Delvig’s house and the Angleterre hotel, both of them threatened with demolition. The person responsible for city cultural policy then was Valentina Matvienko, deputy chair of the Leningrad Executive Committee.
This story is being repeated today: a multitude of people has united in defense of historical Petersburg, which is now menaced by the administration of Governor Valentina Matvienko. The symbol of this threat that hangs over the city like an ominous shadow is the Okhta Center skyscraper, a project of the Gazprom Corporation. On September 22, 2009, the city government passed a resolution permitting the building to attain a height of 403 meters, despite the fact that the maximum height allowed on this plot by the city’s Land Use and Development Rules is 100 meters.