International Scientific Conference
“PRESERVATION OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE CITY OF SAINT PETERSBURG”
The International Scientific Conference (hereinafter referred to as “the Conference”) was held December 4-5, 2021, in remote format due to the limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic COVID-19. The Conference was organized and conducted by the Saint Petersburg Association of Scientists (SPASS) in collaboration and partnership with non-governmental organizations, research and educational centres in Russia, foreign scientists, ICOMOS experts from Saint Petersburg, Austria, Japan, Finland, USA. The total number of participants of the Conference via Zoom and YouTube was 259 persons on December 4, 2021 and 218 persons on December 5, 2021, coming from Russia and 17 foreign countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Republic of Moldova, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kirgizia, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Austria, Germany, United States, Australia, Japan, India, Bulgaria.
Not only for Saint Petersburg, but for the whole of Russia and the world, where there are “silent pogroms” going on, as Nicholas Roerich characterised the destruction of ancient monuments in peacetime, the ideas of the Roerich Pact are especially relevant. The International Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments (Roerich Pact) was signed on April 15, 1935, and became the basis of the international legal system in the field of protection of cultural property. The essential principles and norms of the Roerich Pact laid the foundation for the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the Convention of 1972 for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and other international heritage protection instruments.
The purpose of the Conference is to protect the most important landscape and urban heritage sites located within the boundaries of UNESCO World Heritage Site No. 540 “Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments”. Joint protection of Saint Petersburg’s cultural heritage gives us hope that in 2021, which is declared the Year of Science and Technology by the President of the Russian Federation, a significant step forward will be made in consolidation of the scientific and civil communities to establish a constructive dialogue with representatives of the legislative and executive authorities of the Russian Federation and the business community, and to ensure that Saint Petersburg and Russian culture have an appropriate place in the global cultural process.
Having heard and discussed the reports of the participants and speeches in the discussions, the Conference concluded that the cultural heritage of Saint Petersburg is under the threat that the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site No. 540 “Historic Centre of St Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments” in fact does not protect it.
The main reason for this is the de facto inaction of the state authorities responsible for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. In the case of World Heritage Sites, this is an international obligation of Russia. The status of World Heritage Site No. 540 “Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments” has not yet been defined at federal level. The Presidential Instruction to comply with the 1972 World Heritage Convention and its Implementation Guidelines, issued in April 2016, is being effectively sabotaged by the executive authorities of Saint Petersburg and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. The President of the Russian Federation’s instruction to establish an archaeological Museum-Preserve at Okhta Cape has not been fulfilled. The conference states that the historical environment of Saint Petersburg is being systematically damaged. Historic buildings in the city are constantly being demolished. The urbanisation of the landscape surrounding the historical suburbs of St Petersburg is progressing.
The conference expresses its utmost concern over the condition of protection of the cultural heritage of Saint Petersburg as part of the cultural heritage of the country and the world and considers the violation of international obligations of Russia in cultural heritage protection and the non-fulfillment of above-mentioned commissions of the President of the Russian Federation inadmissible.
The Conference considers it necessary to ask the President of the Russian Federation to take personal control of the issue of preserving the historical and cultural heritage of Saint Petersburg and notes the following important problems:
1) The Conference considers the most urgent issue to be the preservation of the unique complex of architectural and archaeological monuments at Okhta cape, which is an utmost important testimony to the history of these lands, Russia’s struggle to enter the Baltic Sea and the diverse cultural links with the countries of Western Europe.
The Conference demands that the state authorities ensure that all the fortification structures found on the cape are placed under full protection of the State as immovable objects of cultural heritage and that any construction work on this site is prohibited.
The Conference supports the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation to establish a Historical and Archaeological Museum-Preserve on the whole of the Okhta Cape whose main task should be to preserve and exhibit the ancient fortifications and the memory of the historical events that took place there.
Replacing the Museum-Preserve with a museum inside the planned Gazprom business centre will result in the destruction of unprotected monuments, which could be qualified as an act of vandalism, which will have irreparable consequences for Russian and world history and culture and for the prestige of the country.
2) The Conference considers it urgent to proceed with the process of designating the components of World Heritage Site No. 540 “Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments” as federal monuments within the shortest possible time.
3) The Conference considers that in the event of large-scale rehabilitation or new development work being undertaken at a World Heritage site, it will be necessary to assess these plans in accordance with the methodology and procedures reflected in the ICOMOS Operational Guidelines for Heritage Impact Assessments of World Heritage Properties, notifying the public in advance of such plans and involving international experts from ICOMOS, as the main expert advisory body on cultural heritage of UNESCO, to review such cases.
4) The conference notes that there is an on-going trend of high-rise development encroaching upon the cityscape, part of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site, which has already been significantly damaged by the construction of the Lakhta Centre and will be further damaged in the case of the announced Lakhta-2 skyscraper.
5) The Conference considers it necessary to have an independent scientific expertise of Saint Petersburg governmental planning to prevent wrong decisions concerning the cultural heritage of the city.
6) The Conference points out that the design of Saint Petersburg State University campus in Pushkinsky district of Saint Petersburg does not sufficiently consider the reputational, cultural, educational and urbanistic losses connected with the removal of the university structures, especially the humanities faculties, from the historical centre of Saint Petersburg and the danger of sharp anthropogenic load to the unique palace and park complexes and to Pushkin city in whole.
7) The Conference deems it necessary to ask you to cancel the approval of the Director of the Main (Pulkovo) Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Science (component No. 540-008) for housing construction and to exclude any construction in the Protective Park Zone of the Observatory, which leads to loss of the object’s historical, cultural and scientific value – this is necessary for resumption of astrometric observations in the Pulkovo Observatory in full.
8) The Conference considers it necessary to stop further development of the unique natural landscape components of the World Heritage site (Izhorsky Bench resp. Baltic-Ladoga escarpment, resp. Baltic Glint, Dudergofskaya, Koltushskaya, Yukkovskaya elevation).
9) The Conference notes serious problems with the protection of Soviet architectural heritage, including: the distortion of the architectural ensemble of the factory “Red Banner” (architect Erich Mendelssohn), associated with the attempted demolition of some of the buildings of the site; the destruction over a long period of time of the “Moskva” cinema (architect L.M. Khidekel, 1937-1939); the refusal of the Committee on State Property Management to include in the register of monuments the buildings of the Filter Department of the Main Waterworks Plant (engineer and technologist K. P. Kovrov, 1927-1931) and the School for Factory Apprenticeship of Lenenergo (1933-1934), and the All-Union Paper Research Institute (architects B. N. Zhuravlev, V. A. Filippova, 1955-1957).
10) The Conference deems it necessary, in view of numerous problematic issues of conservation of cultural heritage sites in Russia and the need to consolidate the efforts of the public forces of the country aimed at their preservation, to use the ideas of Nicholas Roerich, laid down in his international Treaty for the Protection of Art and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments (Roerich Pact). To this end, the Conference recommends the International Roerich Centre to carry out the necessary work for the establishment of the Roerich Pact Committee in Russia.
11) The Conference considers it necessary to request UNESCO and ICOMOS to pay close attention to the condition of World Heritage Site No. 540 “Historic Centre of St. Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments” and requests a monitoring mission to verify the state of protection of this site with a view to considering the inclusion of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
12) As Europa Nostra (“Our Europe”), a pan-European federation of associations dedicated to the promotion and protection of Europe’s cultural heritage and natural environment, works to protect cultural heritage and has the list “Seven Most Vulnerable Europa Nostra Sites”, the Conference requests to consider the inclusion of the Pulkovskaya Observatory in this list.
List of Distribution of the Resolution:
– President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
– Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation on Culture, Vladimir Ilyich Tolstoy
– Dmitry Vladislavovich Shalkov, Head of the Control Department of the President of the Russian Federation
– Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, Alexei Leonidovich Kudrin
– Public Chamber of the Russian Federation
– Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Olga Borisovna Lyubimova
– Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, Sergey Lavrov
– State Duma of the Russian Federation, including the Committee on Culture of the State Duma
– Council of Federation
– Alexey Borisovich Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Board of Directors
– Governor of St. Petersburg, Aleksandr Dmitrievich Beglov
– Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, including the Standing Commission on Urban Development, Urban Planning, and Property Issues
– CGIOP of Saint Petersburg,
– Governor of the Leningrad Region, Aleksandr Yuryevich Drozdenko,
– Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region, including the Standing Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Tourism, Sports and Youth
– Committee for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage of the Leningrad Region
– Rector of St. Petersburg State University, Nikolai Mikhailovich Kropachev
– Rector of St Petersburg State University, Nikolai Mikhailovich Kropachev
– Nazar Robertovich Ikhsanov, Director of the Pulkovo Observatory
– Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
– Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre
– Chairman of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee Bureau, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, Alexander Igorevich Kuznetsov
– ICOMOS President, Teresa Patricio
– Council of the ICOMOS National Committee, Russia
– Europa Nostra