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Historical Monuments of the Gulf of Finland Coast– under UNESCO protection

Just before the New Year holidays a group of the community representatives sent two petitions to UNESCO and to the Council of Europe. The petitions contain a request to participate in the destiny of two unique palace-and-park ensembles situated in the Lomonosov district of the Leningrad region: Gostilitsy mansion and the palace ensemble in Ropsha.

There are dozens of valuable architectural monuments that are on the brink of destruction in the Leningrad region. But palaces in Gostilitsy and Ropsha take a special place in this list. In 1989 they were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as parts of the “Historic Centre of Saint-Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments" (ref. number 540 in the World Heritage List).

Russia has also acceded to two international conventions on protection of historical and cultural heritage: in 1988 the Soviet Union ratified UNESCO Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and in 1990 – the Convention of the Council of Europe for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe.

By the way, many other valuable objects in the suburbs of St.Petersburg were also included in property № 540 of the World Heritage List. Some of them either do not exist anymore (as Zinoviev mansion in Nevsky Park) or have been crippled down in recent years (as palace-and-park ensemble “Mikhailovka estate” in Peterhof).

Despite the fact that palaces in Gostilitsy and Ropsha are on the edge of destruction – floors have already crumbled and the walls are going to fall down as well – they still can be saved by taking immediate action. Both buildings are registered at the Department of State Protection, Conservation and Use of the Cultural Heritage of the Government of Leningrad region. But what happened with the monuments of the cultural heritage – one can judge for him- or herself.

The condition of Ropsha palace was rather good until the 1990s. The palace was occupied by a military unit and some other organizations for a long time by then. However during last 20 years of being "under the protection of the state" a valuable historical building was turned into ruins.

A decision to send public petition to UNESCO and the Council of Europe was taken after all other attempts to solve the problem have failed. Russian authorities do nothing except for ignoring calls of the citizens to undertake urgent measures for saving the monuments in Gostilitsy and Ropsha.

Among the members of the public of St. Petersburg who signed the petition there is a leading Russian historian and archaeologist A.N. Kirpichnikov, Director of the Russian Institute of Art History of the Russian Academy of Sciences T.A. Klyavina, co-chair of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Russian Society for Conservation of the Historical and Cultural monuments A.D. Margolis, leading Russian specialist in the restoration of the architectural monuments M.I. Milchik, chairman of the Union of the local historians of St. Petersburg A.V. Kobak, deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg A.A. Kovalev, and a representative of the international community for the protection of the cities, member of the American Geographical Association N. Trumbull.

Authors of the petition hope that international organizations will find the ways to influence the Government of the Russian Federation and will oblige it to follow international requirements for the protection of cultural and historical heritage.

Based on the materials from Alexander Makarov.

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