Muscovites protest film director's plan for hotel

26th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Conservationists and opposition protesters on Tuesday rallied against a controversial plan by one of Russia's best known film directors to build a large hotel in Moscow's historic centre.

The film company owned by Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov, TRITE, plans to build a seven-storey hotel on a site it owns on Maly Kozikhinsky Pereulok street in central Moscow.

On Tuesday, left-wing activists protested at the site and four were detained by police, Sergei Udaltsov, the coordinator of the Left Front movement, told the Echo of Moscow radio station on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, protestors managed to stop construction work at the site, saying that the builders did not have all the necessary permits.

Mikhalkov, who won a best foreign film Oscar in 1995 for "Burnt by the Sun," is also mired in controversy after he proposed a plan to fight film piracy with a one percent tax on sales of blank DVDs and sound and video equipment.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier this month signed a decree on the measures, which critics say will see a large share of the proceeds going to Mikhalkov's organisation, the Russian Union of Rights Owners.

The hotel, located on a small quiet street, would have 24 apartment units and an underground garage, and would require the demolition of two old buildings on the site, according to the City Hall decree.

Roman Tkach, coordinator of the Public Coalition to Protect Moscow conservation group, told Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid on Monday that residents had not been warned of the construction.

"Residents found out that construction was starting here and what was going to happen here only when the heavy machinery came along and started driving in piles," he said.

Tkach said that residents were worried that building the seven-storey hotel would damage the fragile 19th century buildings opposite the site.

A representative of the construction company, BEL Development, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that it had all the necessary permits, however.

Mikhalkov, 65, suffered a critical failure with his latest film, "Burnt by the Sun-2," made by the film company TRITE.

© 2010 AFP

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