Advertising suffocating Russian capital: heritage official

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The Russian capital Moscow is losing its cultural face due to a chaotic "patchwork" of illegal banner advertising covering major landmarks, the city's heritage committee said Friday.

Pushkin Square, a historic and popular site in the centre is especially crowded by advertisements which cover entire buildings.

A thousand banners are illegally installed in a UNESCO-protected zone near the Kremlin, deputy director of Moscow's heritage committee Alexander Filyaev said at a conference.

Advertisements are often installed on the pretext of facade renovations, but "construction scaffolding stands for years without any renovation works, deteriorating the buildings further," he said.

An investigation of Moscow's boulevard ring, a tree-lined promenade in the centre, revealed that "only two percent of advertisement displays" have the proper permits from the city's heritage committee, he said.

"We have asked acting mayor Vladimir Resin to punish the violators and put an end to these infractions," he said.

"I'd like to ask Muscovites to help out the city hall by taking pictures of Moscow's streets and sending them in," Filyaev said.

President Dmitry Medvedev in September dramatically sacked Yury Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor for the past 18 years, saying he had lost confidence in him, replacing him with Luzhkov's former deputy Resin.

The new interim administration has quickly announced a number of symbolic measures contradicting the former mayor's policies and mooted moving a giant statue of Peter the Great from the centre of the capital.

Architecture preservation group Arkhnadzor, which has constantly battled city administration over destruction of architectural landmarks said they have now been invited to a round table with the City Hall.

"We will ask to stop the projects threatening old Moscow," said group coordinator Konstantin Mikhailov, Interfax reported.

© 2010 AFP

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