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Moscow: public protest achieves its aim

05.05.2006    source: www.hro.org

Protest from the public, including that from the historical and educational, human rights and charitable society “Memorial”, have been successful. As a letter from the Committee on the Cultural Heritage of Moscow states, the building of the Military Collegium [Voennaya Kollegiya] of the Supreme Court of the USSR has been given protected status and can now not be knocked down, as its present owners had planned.

Information about the planned demolition appeared at the end of January in the newspaper “Izvestiya”. Having learned of the plans, Moscow’s “Memorial” approached the Mayor of Moscow, Y.M.  Luzhkov, the Chair of the Commission on the Preservation of Buildings in the Historic Part of the City, V.I. Resin, the Chair of the Committee on the Cultural Heritage of Moscow, V.I.  Sokolovsky, as well as the new owners of the building – the Limited Liability Company “The Enterprise “Sibneftegaz”.

A protest campaign was begun by relatives of those shot after being sentenced by the Military Collegium and supported by many people disturbed by the plans.

“This building was inextricably linked with the most tragic periods of Russian history in the twentieth century.  It was specifically the Military Collegium which sentenced to death on no grounds many thousands of our fellow citizens, among them not only more than 9 thousand Muscovites, but tens of thousands of people throughout the entire country (around 40 thousand in 1937 – 1938 alone).

The victims included ordinary citizens and renowned scientists, military commanders and writers, doctors and heads of major enterprises. The names of many of these people contributed to Russia’s reputation.

For many thousands of people this building is inextricably linked with the death of their parents, and for them the planned demolition would be sacrilege

It would be a sign of disrespect to our own history to demolish this building, and the idea of building a shopping centre would be like building a discotheque in a graveyard”.

New publications appeared, first in “Izvestiya” then in “MK” [“Moskovsky Komsomolets].

Yury Luzhkov sent our letter to the control and to the Committee on Cultural Heritage.  As a result the issue was raised at an expert commission of the Committee on the Cultural Heritage of Moscow on 26 April, for which we presented material and information about the “activities” of the Military Collegium.

Meanwhile an article appeared in the journal “Ogonyok” and the newspaper “Novye Izvestiya” and a fairly long feature was shown on TV-3.

On 3 May 2006 we received an official letter from the Committee on the Cultural Heritage of Moscow. The demolition has thus been averted, but it is still to early to sit back – the question remains of creating a museum of the history of repression.

We would like to thank all those who helped in this struggle, but ask that you continue your efforts.

The call to protest can be read at: http://khpg.org/1143631906

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