RESOLUTION SPB/6: On the Threats to the Cultural Heritage Properties (Russia and Ukraine)

I. Having heard and discussed the reports and presentations by participants on the progress in the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the World Heritage Committee concerning the preservation of the Cultural Heritage Properties in Russian Federation and Republic of Ukraine, the International NGO Forum “Protection of World Heritage Properties” declares that:

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

2. The Russian Federation has no uniform policy on the conservation of World Heritage properties. Despite repeated recommendations by the World Heritage Committee, a federal executive body authorized to conserve and manage World Heritage properties has not been established. In a number of cases, the boundaries of World Heritage properties and their buffer zones have not been set. Information (including cartographic data) about the properties, their boundaries, buffer zones, and restrictions on economic activity thereby imposed in these areas is not publicly available.

3. In recent years, World Heritage properties have been subjected to negative impacts directly sanctioned by the authorities (e.g., demolitions of historic buildings and inappropriate new construction in the historic centres of Saint Petersburg and Yaroslavl; construction of a road near the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl River; and plans for new construction in the Moscow Kremlin).

4. The Russian Federation has systematically avoided fulfilling its mandatory obligation, as stipulated by the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, to provide information about projects impacting the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties. It has for several years delayed submitting state of conservation reports on individual properties to the World Heritage Committee. As a result of the ineffective work of national bodies, UNESCO has practically frozen the process of inscribing Russian cultural heritage sites on the World Heritage List. The last time this happened was in 2005; since then, the Russian Federation has not nominated a single cultural heritage site for consideration by the World Heritage Committee. At the same time, attempts are being made to reduce the total area of individual properties under the guise of “clarifying” their boundaries and structure (e.g., Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Monuments).

Forum participants thus call on the World Heritage Committee to:

5. Demand that the Russian Federation strictly observe its commitments to conserving its World Heritage properties in accordance with the Convention.

6. Send World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring missions to evaluate the state of conservation of the following World Heritage properties: Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow; White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal; Cultural and Historical Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands; Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings; Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent.

7. Hold a special session in Russia on the status of the Russian Federation’s World Heritage properties, involving experts and representatives from the Russian Federation Ministry of Culture, the Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Russian nongovernmental organizations; discuss impediments to cooperation between the Russian Federation and the World Heritage Committee; and develop recommendations for improving mechanisms for the protection of World Heritage properties at the national level.

8. Take note of the forum’s recommendations to the State Party to the Convention, as well as to the official agencies responsible for the management of World Heritage Site C 540 – Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Monuments (Supplement 1 to Resolution SPB/6).

Forum participants also call on Russian federal authorities to:

9. Join the Council of Europe Frame Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (adopted October 27, 2005), whose signatories agreed to:

– recognize that rights relating to cultural heritage are inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

– recognize individual and collective responsibility towards cultural heritage;

– emphasize that the conservation of cultural heritage and its sustainable use have human development and quality of life as their goal.

10. Include into Russian federal museum regulations clauses stipulating the responsibilities of cultural institutions charged with the management of World Heritage properties.

11. Amend the Russian federal regulatory framework on construction as it relates to restoration work on cultural heritage sites.

12. Develop and introduce necessary amendments to existing legislation that would exclude arbitrary interpretations of the terms “reconstruction” and “adaptation for contemporary use,” and guarantee an unequivocal ban on the demolition of historical buildings, construction of new buildings in their place, modification of their appearance, and exemptions of more than ten percent from approved building codes.

13. Conduct an audit on the state of conservation of the Russian Federation’s World Heritage properties in accordance with the methodology adopted by ICOMOS monitoring missions, paying particular attention to the problematic situations that have emerged at a number of these properties.

14. Develop and define the Outstanding Universal Value of its World Heritage properties, their boundaries and those of their buffer zones, integrated plans for their management, etc., and draft official technical certificates for World Heritage properties and their buffer zones.

REPUBLIC OF UKRAINE

15. Having examined reports regarding the state of conservation of the property № 527 “Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral, Kiev Pechersk Lavra and Related Monastic Buildings (Ukraine) (C 527 bis)”,
recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.112 of the World Heritage Committee adopted on its session in 2011 in Paris, France,

taking into account UNESCO/ICOMOS joint mission reports and recommendations,

considering existing problems with the state of conservation of the property:

– construction projects in the buffer zones of the Saint-Sophia Cathedral, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and at the river Dnieper slopes which are going on;

– complete degradation of historical monastic landscape of the right bank of the Dnieper;

– lack of positive progress in the state of conservation of the property,

Forum participants call on the World Heritage Committee:

16. to urge the State Party to provide full and objective information and documentation on all construction projects in the buffer zones of the Saint-Sophia Cathedral, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and the slopes of the Dnieper river, which are already realized or are going to be realized as well as finally revised plans for all ongoing projects, to the World Heritage Center, according to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines of the Convention;

17. to halt immediately all construction projects in the buffer zones of Saint-Sophia Cathedral (O.Gonchara, 17-23, Streletskaya str., 10/1, Streletskaya str., 9/11), Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and at the river Dnieper slopes (Klovsky Spusk, 7-a, Mazepy str., 11-a, Grushevskogo str.9-b and others) till the beforementioned information is provided and examined;

18. to organize the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission involving experts in archeology, hydroheology and architecture to assess the possible negative impact of construction projects on the integrity and outstanding universal value of the property;

Forum participants also call government of the Ukraine

19. to introduce an immediate moratorium on construction and exploitation of huge underground parking lots in the dangerous hydrogeological zones of Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Kiev-Pechersk Lavra;

20. to reduce the height or demolish all dissonant constructions in the buffer zones of Saint Sophia Cathedral and Kiev-Pechersk Lavra which threaten or may have negative impact on the outstanding universal value of the property and could compromise the panorama of historical-monastic landscape of the right bank of the Dnieper;

21. to integrate the necessary adjustments to the national legislative acts to consolidate the status of the territory of the buffer zone of Saint-Sophia Cathedral as the “especially valuable lands” and inscribe these data in the automated system of land register.

SUPPLEMENT 1 TO RESOLUTION SPB/6

Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments
(Russian Federation) (C 540)

Date of Inscription on World Heritage List
1990
Criteria
(i) (ii) (iv) (vi)

Having heard and discussed the reports and presentations by Petersburg participants, the International NGO Forum “Protection of World Heritage Properties” declares that:

1. Russian federal and Saint Petersburg authorities have deliberately failed to comply with the resolutions adopted at previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee, which recommended that the State Party submit a modification/clarification of the boundaries and structure of the property, define buffer zones, develop proposals for legal protection of the property in accordance with the principles of its integrated conservation, designate a principal management authority to control the authenticity and integrity of the property, and design an overarching management framework for the property.

2. The State Party’s assurances that “since 2005 the authorities have been carrying out a systematic retrospective inventory of the property” do not reflect the actual situation. In fact, since 2005 Petersburg authorities have continually attempted to reduce the number of locations in the property and narrow its boundaries by forcing them conform to the approved General Plan of Saint Petersburg and the boundaries of the city’s preservation zones (ratified into law in 2009). Thus, nearly all of the Petrograd Side, the greater part of Vasilievsky Island, and half of Nevsky Prospect now lie outside the preservation zones.

3. The “List of Locations in the Property,” prepared by the Saint Petersburg Architecture and Urban Planning Committee and officially submitted to the World Heritage Centre, preserves approximately half of the previous number of these locations (139). The Neva River, the Ladoga Canals, Fort Den in Kronstadt, the Gulf of Finland coastal forts of Lisy Nos and Ino, the Koltushskaya Elevation, the Yukkovskaya Elevation, the historic centres of all of Petersburg’s palace suburbs, Separate (Otdelny) Park and the Alexander Dacha in Pavlovsk, Tsarskaya Slavyanka, and the Peterhof Aqueduct are among the locations that have been excluded from the list.

4. Federal and regional legal bans on demolition of historic buildings and new construction in the buffer zones have been systematically violated. The imperfection of the laws themselves, which contain vague wording and regulatory loopholes, has been used by developers, with the connivance of the authorities, to dismantle historic building, engage in new construction, and radically modify and build additions onto authentic building under the guise of “reconstruction” and “adaptation for contemporary use.” Thus, on Nevsky Prospect alone, six historic buildings have been demolished under the guise of reconstruction.

5. New high-rise construction remains a major threat to the property. Historic preservationists succeeded in obtaining a court judgment that declared the Saint Petersburg law “On Land Use and Development Regulations” (adopted in 2009) invalid after officials illegally included over a hundred so-called local dominants (high-rise buildings not subject to prevailing height zoning codes) in the text of the law. However, Petersburg authorities de facto sabotaged enforcement of the court’s decision, and then filed an appeal with the Presidium of the Russian Federation Supreme Court to have it overturned.

The authorities have arbitrarily interpreted procedures for granting exemptions to permitted specifications for new construction. Petersburg authorities, for example, have granted a height exemption of up to 500 meters to developers of the Lakhta Centre complex, slated for construction in the UNESCO-protected Neva River estuary. They have thus authorized an unprecedented “exemption” for an area zoned for building heights of no greater than 27 meters.

6. Despite the fact that historic preservationists have achieved local victories by convincing Petersburg authorities to cancel permits for construction in several parks and squares, the process of eliminating public green spaces, redeveloping historic gardens and parks, and barbarously modifying their appearance continues apace. Today, in particular, Babolovo Park in the town of Pushkin, the Lopukhin Garden, and Udelny Park remain at risk: the felling of trees and new construction are either underway or are planned at these sites. The fate of a unique landmark of the art of landscaping, the Tauride Garden, remains a matter of grave concern: part of the site was previously sold to a private businessman for redevelopment, and now he has put the lot up for sale.

7. In violation of the Russian federal law “On Cultural Heritage Sites of the Peoples of the Russian Federation” and in contravention of basic scientific and methodological principles for the restoration of historical and cultural landmarks, the Summer Garden recently underwent “major repairs with elements of reconstruction.” Given the project’s stated focus on the first half of the eighteenth century, reconstruction of the ensemble has led to the destruction of most elements of the later phases in its history, during which the Summer Garden was gradually transformed from an imperial residence into an public city park. Among other alterations, an important feature of the Summer Garden during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, its “transparency,” has disappeared completely, and the sculptures have been rearranged. Planners also completely ignored the universally recognized value of authenticity: as a result of the work that has been carried out, eighteen of the twenty-seven elements (i.e., 66%) included in the plans for the renovated Summer Garden are newly manufactured replicas. The ensemble has thus largely lost its authenticity.

8. While they appreciate the decisions by the new Saint Petersburg government to cancel a number of previously planned controversial projects (including the Orlovsky Tunnel and a multi-use complex at the site of the historic tram depot on Vasilievsky Island), forum participants note the large number of remaining threats to the city’s cultural heritage. Foremost among these is the European Embankment development project: if implemented, it would bury the old idea of creating a single public green area at the site and disfigure the view of the Spit of Vasilievsky Island. Alarming as well are plans to relocate one of the oldest shipbuilding facilities in Russia, the Admiralty Shipyards (followed by the large-scale redevelopment of this vast site, which overlooks the Neva River), and the Kirov Military Medical Academy, whose history dates to the reign of Peter the Great.

9. The condition and status of the archaeological sites discovered at the mouth of the Okhta River in 2006-2010 are particularly worrisome. The finds (encampments from the Neolithic period and Early Metal Age; a settlement from the Novgorod period; fortifications of the fortress Landskrona [1300-1301]; fortifications of the fortress Nyenskans [1611-1703]; and a burial ground of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) are the historical legacy not only of Russia, but also of Northern Europe. However, the sites have not been fully studied. Unfortunately, the Okhta Cape area is now privately owned, and the sites, although they have the formal status of a regional landmark, are constantly in danger of redevelopment and destruction.

The condition and status of the archaeological sites discovered at the mouth of the Okhta River in 2006-2010 are particularly worrisome. The finds (encampments from the Neolithic period and Early Metal Age; a settlement from the Novgorod period; fortifications of the fortress Landskrona [1300-1301]; fortifications of the fortress Nyenskans [1611-1703]; and a burial ground of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) are the historical legacy not only of Russia, but also of Northern Europe. However, the sites have not been fully studied. Unfortunately, the Okhta Cape area is now privately owned, and the sites, although they have the formal status of a regional landmark, are constantly in danger of redevelopment and destruction.

10. The long-term Program for the Preservation and Development of the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg (2012–2018), currently being drafted by the city administration, is particularly worrisome. Historical preservation organizations have raised concerns that under the guise of a “complex rehabilitation of the historic environment [that takes] into account public interests and the interests of private investors” a large-scale reconstruction, involving the massive demolition of historic intra-block buildings and construction of new, contextually inappropriate buildings, will be implemented. Work on the planned program has been undertaken in the absence of a coherent development strategy for the property and without public debate. Petersburg authorities have even refused to include the relevant committee from the city’s legislative assembly in the planning process, despite the fact that it submitted a formal proposal to involve its members in this work.

11. While they appreciate the ongoing negotiations between Petersburg authorities and professional historic preservation organizations, forum participants are forced to acknowledge that access to information on the urban planning decision-making process, projects under development, the issuing of planning and building permits, etc., is extremely limited. Citizens quite often receive information about new, potential threats to historic Petersburg when building fences and construction equipment suddenly appear in their neighbourhoods.

Forum participants consider it necessary

12. to recommend that Russian federal authorities

– take immediate action to complete work on identification of the property, reject the proposal made by the Saint Petersburg Committee on the Public Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks (KGIOP) to reduce the number of locations cited as part of the property, and officially submit to the World Heritage Centre documents and materials relating to the clarification of its structure, boundaries and buffer zones, as based on the findings of an independent working group of Petersburg experts established by decision of KGIOP in 2010;

– inscribe the property in the Unified State Register of Cultural Heritage Sites as a federal landmark;

– delay approval of the Lakhta Centre project until it is fully and publicly discussed, all materials on the project are submitted to the World Heritage Centre, and a visual impact study is made using the ICOMOS methodology;

– ensure that the Kirov Military Medical Academy retains its rights to perpetual use of the lot it currently occupies and the historic buildings on it, and abandon plans to break up this august institution and move it to Gorskaya.

13. to recommend that Saint Petersburg authorities

– ensure transparency in the work of the relevant city government committees and agencies by creating a website that would provide the public with promptly updated, comprehensive information on projects under development, expert appraisals, issued permits, and other documents and materials pertaining to all aspects of urban planning and cultural heritage preservation;

– declare a legal moratorium on reduction of the areas of public green spaces, and on new construction in gardens, squares and parks, and acknowledge the right of citizens to a healthy environment as a priority;

– enhance conservation measures for landmarks located outside the historic centre of Saint Petersburg, and enact laws enforcing preservation zones around these landmarks and historical/cultural ensembles;

– support the numerous appeals by citizens, academics and cultural figures calling for the city to reject the European Embankment development project and implement historic plans to create a city park on this site;

– confer archaeological landmark status of the federal significance on the Okhta Cape archaeological sites;

– amend the city’s Land Use and Development Regulations to reduce maximum permitted building heights for areas adjacent to locations in the property that lie outside the historic centre, and conduct a study of proposed new construction in terms of their visual impact on locations cited as part of the property;

– promptly make public all studies and proposals pertaining to the Program for the Preservation and Development of the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg (2012–2018), recognize the necessity to first develop and discuss a strategy for the preservation and development of Saint Petersburg, and, when developing the Program, to base it on the goal of preserving the authenticity and integrity of historic Petersburg, rather than making profits for investors;

– abandon the hasty and ill-conceived plans for the relocation of the Admiralty Shipyards and the subsequent large-scale redevelopment of New Admiralty Island.

14. to recommend that Leningrad Region authorities

– enhance conservation measures for landmarks located in Leningrad Region, and enact laws enforcing preservation zones around these landmarks and historical/cultural ensembles;

– halt construction work in the buffer zone around the Research Campus of Physician and Physiologist I.P. Pavlov, a UNESCO World Heritage location (Ref. 540-021), until its preservation zones have been developed and approved;

– establish a Koltushskaya Elevation regional nature preserve to protect this UNESCO World Heritage location (Ref. 540-032).

St. Petersburg, 24 June 2012

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