"Нашей работе будут пытаться мешать. Влиятельные группы продажных чиновников и ничего не предпринимающих «предпринимателей». Они хорошо устроились. У них «всё есть». Их всё устраивает. Они собираются до скончания века выжимать доходы из остатков советской промышленности и разбазаривать природные богатства, принадлежащие всем нам. Они не создают ничего нового, не хотят развития и боятся его. Но будущее принадлежит не им. Оно принадлежит нам. Таких, как мы, абсолютное большинство. Мы будем действовать. Терпеливо, прагматично, последовательно, взвешенно. Действовать прямо сейчас. Действовать завтра и послезавтра. Мы преодолеем кризис, отсталость, коррупцию".
"А что, как разлетится этот туман и
уйдет кверху, не уйдет ли с ним вместе ...город, .. исчезнет как дым и
останется прежнее Финское болото, а посреди его, пожалуй, для красы,
бронзовый всадник на жарко дышащем загнанном коне".
Санкт-Петербургское общество естествоиспытателей
Центр экспертиз ЭКОМ
199034 Cn6, Университетская наб., 7/9 194358, СПб, пр. Просвещения
POO « Санкт-Петербургское общество д.32 кор.1, а/я 37
естествоиспытателей » Телефон: +7 (911) 987 65 21
Центр экспертиз ЭКОМ www.ecom.su
RUSSIAN COURT NEGLECTED THE WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION.
Brief overview of the case.
On September 22, 2009 the St. Petersburg City Government passed a decree, allowing OJSC Okhta Public & Business Center an exception from the construction limits (specifically, to exceed height limits up to 403 m) at the land parcel they own in the estuary of Okta river. On September 29 this decree was challenged at Smolninsky district court of St. Petersburg by four citizens.
According to the claimants, the decree was violating their right to access the cultural heritage site, because the construction of a skyscraper would cause the sights of St. Petersburg to change irretrievably. The claim emphasized, that, since the Historic Center of St. Petersburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, all decisions on it should be taken in accordance with the requirements of the World Heritage Convention. The appeal had referred specifically to the documents of the 33r Session of the World Heritage Committee, stating, that "...the tower threatens the authenticity and integrity of the property coming into dissonance with the "celestial line" historical panorama of the Neva River". Beside that, the claimants also challenged the reasoning and legality of the decree.
The court had appointed two groups of experts: one to evaluate the site characteristics that were used as reasoning for granting the exception, the other to evaluate the cultural value of the city skyline and the potential threats from the skyscraper. Both groups contained experts, suggested by the claimants, the defendant (the City Administration), and the court.
The construction site experts were to answer the following questions:
• Whether the site in question is unfavorable for development;
• Whether the characteristics of the site make it impossible to build a structure of 100 m height or lower.
The cultural experts were to answer the following questions:
• Whether the views and panoramas of the Historic Center of St. Petersburg, included in the visibility assessment of Okhta Center on a 3D model, are protected by the Historic Preservation and Cultural Heritage Law of St. Petersburg;
• Whether these views and panoramas of the Historic Center of St. Petersburg will be preserved if the Okhta Center skyscraper is built;
• Whether the authenticity of protected views and panoramas of the Historic Center of St. Petersburg is an integral component of many items of cultural heritage, such as Smolny Cathedral, Smolny Institute, Cathedral of Transfiguration, etc.;
• Whether the authenticity of these items of cultural heritage would be preserved after the construction of the Oknta Center skyscraper.
In both groups of experts the opinions were split between those, who were appointed by the claimants and the City Administration. Thus the objectivity of the expertise was significantly undermined. In the cultural expertise group, everybody agreed only on the first question - that
the presented views are protected, and also that the 3D model proves that the structure of 403 m height would be seen from 34 (evaluated) spots within the protected area. Still the judgment of the court states, that "the statement of the expert committee allows a conclusion that the protected views and panoramas will stay intact", which is directly opposite to the opinion of two experts of the five.
Beside that, the judgment of the court contains a wrong statement, that the site in question does not contain any items of World Heritage, protected by UNESCO, as well as that "neither views nor panoramas are considered heritage items by the law". Thus the court has ruled the World Heritage Convention out of the legislation that should be considered in this case.
The judgment of the court is negative for the claimants. It states that "the claimants' argumentation is presumptive", because the exception, allowing OJSC Okhta Public & Business Center to go beyond the height limit is neither a construction in fact, nor a direct construction permit.
Making its judgment Smolninsky district court of St. Petersburg had ignored many important documents, such as the statement of the Federal Agency for Cultural Heritage Protection Supervision, specifying the violation of several laws in the challenged decree of St. Petersburg City Government. The court had also refused to request and consider the letter from Francesco Bandarin of UNESCO World Heritage Center of 18.08.2005 with attachments, specifying the borders of the World Heritage Site "Historic Center of St. Petersburg" and the application for the nomination of the World Heritage Site "Historic Center of St. Petersburg" of 15.09.1989.
While the claimants in this case has filed a cassation appeal for this judgment to the City Court of St. Petesburg, we would like to draw the attention of the World Heritage Center to the fact that the Convention is not duly respected in Russian court system and national legislation does not provide for the access to justice in the cases related to the protection of the WH sites. The judgment of the Smolninsky district court should be considered as a threatening precedent. We call for the action against neglecting the Convention.
The court judgment is attached (in Russian) for further analysis and consideration. Any other documents could be provided on the request.
With respect, -, ^^**^*^*/l ;
Director of the Assessment Center ECOM,
29 June 2010