A year ago affairs management department of the president's administration, or AMD, dismantled the unique complex of Middle Trade Rows on the Red Square. Novaya Gazeta supposed then it was a crime. Prominent culture experts, architects and memorials protection specialists agreed with us. Even Moscow prosecutors supported that opinion until it came into a conflict with that by the Prosecutor General Office.
Now a year after, the criminal case about demolition of the ensemble on the Red Square managed to appear in spite of any Prosecutor’s General Office. AMD said that all four destroyed buildings would be restored.
A year ago the buildings were demolished in a quiet “thief’s” manner. The perimeter part of the complex was veiled with a net. At night time trucks brought out the “construction waste”- that were bricks aged more than a hundred years and bearing the master’s mark.
Moscomnasledie, Rosokhranculture, and Methodical Council confirmed successively they didn’t give their consent to Klein’s buildings demolition. Even a simple technical body – that’s Moscow Administrative-Technical Inspections Department – persisted it didn’t write out any permission for pulling down any buildings on the Red Square. So AMD did everything without any permit.
Many European media told after Novaya Gazeta about barbarian actions by AMD in the area protected by UNESCO. Tverskaya inter-district prosecutor’s office got agitated and made several attempts to make inspections at this address: Red Square, 5. Every time prosecutors failed and returned with a sad statement “there is unofficial information that four inner buildings have been dismantled. However, it seems impossible to prove documentally puling down buildings 1,2,3, and 4.”
Later “small” Moscow prosecutors had to submit as “big” prosecutors from Prosecutor General’s Office who were authorized to investigate the activity by federal state unitary enterprise Kremlyovsky – its status is equalized to the ministerial one - they didn’t find grounding for starting criminal case on the fact of pulling down Middle Trade Rows. We were told that the decision coincided oddly with the visit by head of AMD Kozhin to the Prosecutor General Chaika.
Moscomnasledie managed to carry out its own inspection. Its specialists visited the site and confirmed the fact of demolition. OVD Kitai-gorod got interested in the materials of that inspection. Investigators came to a conclusion that a crime had been committed in the center of Moscow on the Red Square. The crime was classified to Clause 243 of the criminal Code – that’s demolition of historical monuments. Now the criminal case is in Tverskaya inter-district prosecutor’s office. So Moscomnasledie, OVD Kitai-gorod and Tverskaya prosecutor’s office have attempted a brave deed. In spite of all their opponents’ superiority and pressure, they dared to say loudly that the law was violated. Although the decision of starting criminal case speaks about “unestablished persons”, we do hope that investigation will establish who they are considering that those “unestablished persons” do not deny their involvement in pulling down Middle Trade Rows.
During the year that has passed after demolition, AMD has not presented any proof for lawfulness of its actions. Responding to statements by Novaya Gazeta, spokesperson for AMD Viktor Khrekov supposed that we just lied. So far Mr Khrekov hasn’t proved his position with anything except his unsubstantiated statements that everything was done legally. We haven’t seen any document proving legality of the actions by builders.
Neither have we seen any works started at the site, nor even design of the building instead of the pulled down. AMD representatives only said that instead of the unique ensemble by the great architect Moscow will be presented with a diamond bourse and a luxury hotel with underground garage – allegedly it wouldn’t harm standing near St Basil Cathedral.
An assumption arose with the architectural community that head of AMD Vladimir Kozhin was slapped his wrist by someone in his tireless activity. One shouldn’t think too much to guess who in our country can slap Mr Kozhin’s wrist. He has stated in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta recently that it has been decided to “restore the architecture of the old buildings, all their geometry, and to do it with the use of new materials, modern, durable and nice”. On his way to this decision Kozhin made a lot of interesting discoveries. For example, he “established” that authorship of the demolished buildings was not that of Klein’s as they were built later at soviet power. So Moscow didn’t lose anything valuable. Such a “research” by head of AMD amused greatly architects and restorers. If such statements had been done by someone else, he would have been advised not to show himself as incompetent person before the whole nation.
Reference by Novaya Gazeta
What have we lost?
Middle Trade Rows were constructed by architect Roman Ivanovich Klein in 1893 at the site of the previous burnt ones. They have been the integrated element forming architectural aspect of the Red Square ever since.
Klein erected 5 separate units imitating ancient Russian art of building. The main perimeter building surrounded other four units that made a miniature block.
After revolution, Middle Trade Rows were occupied for long by defense ministry due to which fact they were not explored properly. Even cultural layer of the block has not been examined. However, even those data that were found in the archives is enough to say that Moscow has lost a really unique object.
Who devalued Middle Rows?
Initially, all five buildings of Middle Trade Rows had status of regional architectural memorial. This is what is written in the handing-over certificate signed by head of AMD Vladimir Kozhin.
Just after handing the memorial to AMD the status of the buildings was raised to federal level. That way Middle Rows were put out of Moscow authorities’ competence as the latter said from the beginning they wouldn’t allow anyone to dig the Red Square.
Then a question was arisen before the Russian government about removal of protection status from the four inner buildings of the ensemble. The government responded positively in spite of objections by the specialists.
Valery Shevchuk, the chair of the Committee on cultural heritage of Moscow:
Middle Trade Rows are the object we must handle very delicately. Inner buildings whose protection status was not regulated properly, has been demolished already. However, remaining perimeter building is still the federal architectural monument. The plot inside it is of the same status accordingly. The law says it’s only compensation works – restoration of previous bays – that are possible to be done on such a territory.
P.S. Spokesperson for AMD Viktor Khrekov told to Novaya Gazeta that in spite of statements by architects and memorials keepers the design of new building instead of the demolished Middle Trade Rows really exists. Viktor Anatolyevich promised to make us acquainted with it on his return from business trip.
AMD has no information about started criminal case on the fact of pulling down four buildings of Middle Trade Rows.