Russia city 'gave secrets' to foreign architects: report
The Russian security service has opened a criminal probe against officials in a Urals city for handing secrets to foreign architects in a project for a new city master plan, a report said Monday.
Perm in the Urals is pursuing one of Russia's most ambitious urban regeneration schemes aimed at restoring the historic city and creating a thriving urban space for the next decades.
But the plan has hit trouble after city officials handed documents that could contain state secrets to foreign partners who have been mandated to draw up a design for the new cityscape, the Kommersant daily said.
It said these documents included maps of the city as well documents containing information about its mobilisation readiness.
The city was closed to foreigners and Russians needed a permit to visit during the Soviet era, due to its arms industry.
The paper quoted a security service source as saying that "a number" of employees in the city hall were being targeted in the criminal probe, which was opened by the local branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) last month.
The FSB was not immediately available to comment on the report.
To draw up the masterplan, Perm has engaged a number of foreign firms, with the lead designer KCAP Architects and Planners of the Netherlands.
Perm, some 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) east of Moscow, has over the past years become known as one of Russia's most dynamic cities although its image was tarnished by a horrific fire at a nightclub in December 2009 that killed over 150 people.
"The aim of the Perm Strategic Masterplan (PSM) is to deliver a world-class model of urban restructuring and guidance which combines the best design, technology, environmental and socio-economic development," according to the website of the project permgenplan.ru.
According to the website, the final version of the plan is due to be ready this year.
© 2010 AFP