Residents and activists are fighting for the last reserved place in the capital, where four centuries of the history of Russian diplomacy, art and music have united. Developers go to great lengths, ignoring court decisions.
Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
Lyudmila Malkis has been living on Ivanovskaya Gorka for 10 years, but her whole life is in one way or another connected with this area of Moscow. She studied at the Institute of History and Archives (now - RGGU, Russian State University for the Humanities - noted by the editor) on Zabelin Street, went, like all historians, to the Historical Library, which is located right there, on Ivanovskaya Gorka. My great-aunt lived all her life nearby, they walked together along the winding streets around Khitrovka. Malkis is an urbanist by profession. As a specialist, she saw that the house of Jurgenson's printing house began to decline for the last two or three years:
- Before that, they were in a satisfactory condition, but for the last three years they have completely stopped doing them. The windows were covered with plywood, the guards disappeared from the territory. We cannot know what happened, but it became clear that the attitude had changed. Now everything has fallen into disrepair.
The residents learned about the threat of destruction hanging over the Ivanovskaya gorka (hill) almost by accident. In November 2019, the authorities posted the Act on the State Historical and Cultural Expertise on the website of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage. By law, this document is published for public comment if new buildings are planned to be built on the site of historical buildings. Someone who read it shared a link on Facebook, and then it became clear that three buildings of the complex of monuments, which is known as the "Printing House of Yurgenson, the Ukrainian Chamber" and has been protected since 1960, should be demolished. Citizens got worried and started writing their comments on the site.
Resident of Ivanovskaya Gorka, Dmitry Charakhchyan is a lawyer and resident of Ivanovskaya Gorka. When he heard that his favorite area could turn into another Old Arbat, he realized that he needed to defend himself.
Quarter of Discord
Ivanovskaya Gorka is the best preserved historical district of Moscow. There is still a medieval structure of streets here, and in each courtyard there are monuments of cultural heritage.
The first building of this quarter - the chambers of the clerk Ukraintsev - was the home of one of the most influential diplomats of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Yemelyan Ukraintsev. The house was built in the 17th century. In the 18th century, it housed the archive of the College of Foreign Affairs. After another 100 years, next to the archive, the director's building and the house of the archivists in the Empire style were completed. In the 19th century, the Russian Musical Society moved into the building. The teachers of the Moscow Conservatory and a prominent figure in the society, publisher Peter Ivanovich Yurgenson took an active part in his life. Later, he bought out the entire complex of buildings and placed a music press in it. From here came the spread of Russian classical music throughout the world.
"Jurgenson had warehouses not only in Europe, but also in Mexico, Egypt, Australia, Canada. First, the world recognized Tchaikovsky and his opera Eugene Onegin, and then Pushkin”, - says Dmitry Charakhchyan.
Things were going well, and by the end of the 19th century an elegant printing house along Khokhlovsky Lane was added to the chambers. And at the beginning of the 20th century, the youngest son of Peter Jurgenson, Grigory, built the estate. For daughter Alexandra Yurgenson-Snegireva and her husband, the father ordered the building of Snegirev's eye clinic to be erected at Kolpachny Lane, 11.
In 1939, a school was built on the territory of the former estate, and the Institute of the International Labor Movement moved to it. The institute was called the cradle of modern Russian social science, the philosopher and admirer of Socrates Merab Mamardashvili, the expert on existentialism Erich Soloviev, sociologist and the largest expert in the study of public opinion Boris Grushin taught here ... Jean-Paul Sartre and Stanislav Lem spoke in this building.
What are going to be demolished
The cost of Moscow land near the Kitay-Gorod metro station is high. One square meter costs, according to realtors, from 60 to 100 thousand rubles. But in order to build something in the very center, you need to demolish something. Thus, the residents of Ivanovskaya Gorka learned from the Mayor's Office that the Moscow City Heritage Site had given three buildings on the territory of the estate under the knife, or rather, under the bulldozer. This is the building of the architect Viktor Velichkin in a romantic style, which the locals call "chateau" in 1897, the building of the Institute of the International Labor Movement in 1939 and an outbuilding on the territory of the estate.
Back in 1960, the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR by decree No. 1327 assigned the status of a monument of national importance to the entire complex of buildings at Khokhlovsky lane, house No. 7. At that time, the building of the Institute was not included in this object, but all the buildings of the music printing house, the wing built specially for PI Tchaikovsky, the chateau and the rest of the buildings have been put under state protection for 60 years. Only a decree of the Russian government can change the status of the complex. However, the cabinet did not make such a decision.
Dmitry Charakhchyan shows the passport of the monument, approved by the Ministry of Culture of the RSFSR in 1986, from which it follows that the entire complex is under protection, and not only the buildings of the 17th-19th centuries, as the mayor's office says. In 1996, Mosproject-2 conducted a study, in which he indicated the composition of the monument with building numbers and diagrams. There is also a chateau at number 6, which the builders are going to completely officially demolish - thanks to the Moscow City Heritage Site.
"This is a building of 1897, and, according to the resolution of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR of 1960, it is included in the scope of a monument of state (federal) significance. Now the Department of Cultural Heritage strongly disagrees with this. They approved the chateau as a building dating back to the 1930s, calling it a “typical building of the Soviet period - of no value”, - says lawyer Charakhchyan.
Sergey Kavtaradze, art critic and historian of architecture, carefully chooses his words so as not to offend the workers of the Moscow City Heritage Site:
"Let's say politely: there is an annoying misunderstanding, obvious to anyone who has even the slightest idea of the history of Russian architecture of the late 19th - early 20th centuries. The building, which someone very aptly called "chateau", is an example of a romantic appeal to early Renaissance French architecture, to palaces and castles of the 16th century, where courtly appeal was added to the usual knightly virtues, and the emotional aesthetics of Mannerism was added to the classical clarity of the Italian Renaissance. Any specialist can say all this, and just anyone who is interested in the history of Moscow. Here it is not even necessary to know that documents have been preserved, where it is precisely indicated that this monument was created in 1897-1899 by the project of the remarkable architect Viktor Velichkin".
Although the building of the institute is not included in the list of protected buildings, it has the status of an object of historical and urban planning environment, because it is located in a united protected zone. This means that its demolition is not legal. Here the cunning architects of the Ginzburg Architects company decided to play it safe and reported to the department that the house was in danger. Approval for the demolition was received, but a later conclusion of Mosgorexpertiza, which was ordered by the future developer himself, claims that all structures of this building are in working order. Activists understand that the demolition was approved illegally, based on the inaccurate information provided by the developer. In theory, now, when the Moscow City Heritage Committee knows that it was misled, it should cancel its approval, but it is in no hurry to do this.
In response to the letter from the editorial board of Novye Izvestia, the department continues to insist that it is right:
“Building 7 was erected in 1935 as an outbuilding. Building 6 was built as a warehouse of P.I. Yurgenson and is a typical farm building of the late 19th century that has no historical and cultural value".
Yelena Zilonova is a member of the Ivanovskaya Gorka initiative group. Having learned from "NI" about the letter from the Moscow City Heritage Site, she, a calm person, was beside herself:
"The situation is blatant. It's outrageous how our opinion is being ignored. We are talking specifically. We give arguments. In the answer to you from the Moscow City Heritage Site, this answer... It's just outrageous. In general, the Moscow City Heritage Agency, as a body for the protection of monuments, should not take such a position. This is not at all a body for the protection of monuments".
Shields and archeology
The public, activists and archaeologists are especially concerned about the news that the developer wants to use geoscreens - a wall of piles 18 meters deep. This is done in order to protect the foundation pit of the building under construction from slipping of the soil, and nearby buildings from destruction. But the geoscreens themselves are 100% likely to destroy all cultural archaeological layers, including the especially valuable layer of the White City. Archaeologist Igor Kondratyev confirms:
"Excavations are required in those places where the cultural layer is preserved, and earthworks associated with construction can lead to its destruction. If the cultural layer in this place is destroyed, then it is required to carry out not excavations, but archaeological observations during earthworks. Depending on the state of the cultural layer, it is imperative to carry out either excavations or observation to the mainland".
In what state it is located can be understood from the section of the project documentation "Measures for the preservation of the archaeological heritage". But it is not published along with the expertise. The Ministry of Culture admitted that this is a real violation, only the Moscow department does not care - in Moscow this document is published extremely rarely, in contrast to the whole of Russia.
Expert Vladimir Adolfovich Berkovich, who carried out the archaeological examination of Ivanovskaya Gorka, conducted 2,000 archaeological explorations in Moscow, including in the places of old settlements, in two years, and did not find any archaeological value in any of them, says Kondratyev:
"Vladimir Adolfovich Berkovich does not deserve such confidence that he can be taken at his word. For example, it accounts for almost all examinations in Moscow, where sections of measures attached to the examination are not shown. Everywhere he gives a positive conclusion. This despite the fact that he himself then conducts paid archaeological work. There is a clear conflict of interest here".
Public figures ask: if the expert does not believe in the word of Arkhnadzor and the Ministry of Culture, then the Department of Cultural Heritage should publish the section “Measures for the preservation of the archaeological heritage” and dispel their doubts. Instead, the Moscow City Heritage Agency gives permission to the developer not only to drill to an 18-meter depth in the development area, but also at the site of the porch of Yurgenson's mansion, which is part of the security zone. The activists were able to obtain this plan only through the courts. Also, the "guards" repeat after the developer that after construction, all geoscreens will be removed.
"Geo screens are a capital structure. Those experts with whom we consulted say that it is almost impossible to remove them. In the materials of the project, there is nothing about dismantling, except for promises. This item has not been developed by the project", - says Yelena Zilonova.
Business center, Kamaz with Putin and "revitalization"
Because of what or because of whom in the very center of Moscow buildings protected for future generations are being demolished, Russian history is being turned into dust, and the cultural and historical urban landscape is being destroyed? Believe it or not - for another business center with underground parking. The authors of this project, the very same architectural bureau "Ginzburg Architects" , which deliberately gives false information to the Moscow authorities, designed a gigantic business center, two and a half times larger than the building of the Institute of the Labor Movement, which the developer was going to demolish. For construction, 45 trees will be cut down, of which 13 trees in Danilovskaya Alleyka, including a large 6-meter girth poplar "Giant". This alley is mentioned in the famous Moscow novel by Viktor Orlov "Violinist Danilov" in 1980. It is curious that one of the main characters in the novel - "demon on a contract" was outraged by attempts to build a garage cooperative on the site of the alley and used all his supernatural powers to prevent this from happening. 40 years later, other "forces" - GBU "Zhilischnik" - suddenly decided that 15 trees in the alley were sick and needed to be cut down urgently. All residents rose to their defense and defended most of the green giants, realizing that they wanted to chop them down in order to open the entrance to the planned construction site.
There are several LLCs in the developers. As it became known to the activists, they belong to Ruslan Evgenievich Goryukhin. Dmitry Charakhchyan calls the Business World Management Company LLC and several other companies with meaningless names:
"I don't know who Ruslan Goryukhin is, but his driver is Putin. They say he was in the KAMAZ that drove over the Crimean bridge, and the president was driving it".
Perhaps that is why the Moscow authorities take the developers' word for it and do not contradict them in anything?
The developer assures everyone that they will restore those buildings that are recognized as monuments of federal significance. The residents have already seen the level of these "restoration" works with their own eyes when workers chipped away plaster on the chambers of the mid-17th century with punchers.
"Now we are talking about the fact that several buildings will be demolished, a large pit will be dug, new roads will be built, an underground parking lot and a huge volume above it will be arranged. Well, well, they will make some pilasters for us so that we won't be very indignant. And this is not done to preserve one of the rare Moscow corners. People got the site and are going to pump as much money out of it as possible. This is felt very well", - says Sergey Kavtaradze.
Ivanovskaya Gorka is known in Moscow as an art quarter. The courtyards and streets are home to art galleries, design studios and boutique shops. Nevertheless, developers envision a “revitalization” of the quarter, as if it were not the very center of Moscow, but an industrial zone. When they handed over the landscape and architectural concept to the public, they saw that the entire intra-quarter space was filled with catering tables.
There are a lot of houses from the 18-19 centuries. Until the middle of the 18th century, the main houses of the estates were built not along the red line of the street, but in the depths of the property. The Dolgorukovs' house, for example, also stands in the back of the block. If residents close access to the courtyard, then no one but themselves will see these monuments. The more bars in the area, the less open courtyards. After all, residents cannot live in peace if there are people around who come to drink.
"What will happen to the most beautiful courtyard on Solyanka, where the famous scenes of the film "Brother" were filmed. Today, when Zabelin Street has become a branch of the Old Arbat, residents were forced by hook or by crook to achieve the closure of their yard, otherwise it is impossible to live", - says Dmitry.
Keepers of Ivanovskaya Gorka or "five friends"
Lyudmila Malkis calls herself an Arkhnadzor activist. For 10 years of life in this Moscow region, she and her associates had to deal with either the Gorka park or the salvation of the Mandelstam square. This is how a group formed from caring people, and they themselves call themselves “keepers”. There is a Facebook group where activists discuss the latest developments. Ill-wishers call them "five friends". So they were nicknamed at the suggestion of the chief architect of Moscow, Sergei Kuznetsov. When Malkis invited him to personally see the Ivanovskaya Gorka, the official asked not to organize a mass event, and asked how many people there would be. Lyudmila said that they would be five of them:
“After that, he began to call the activists, the defenders of Gorka, "five people who know each other” who manipulate public opinion for selfish motives. We are called provocateurs, litigants and blackmailers who create a conflict situation in order to repay it later for money".
Judgment and suspense
The residents did not want to endure such an attitude towards their area, especially after public discussion. 89 people expressed their comments. The department gave 7 comments. “No violations were found”, therefore “the project was agreed with the developer”. And for errors in the historical and cultural description of the area, for the fact that the expert did not conduct his own research and "fed" information from the Internet, the responsibility is not borne by the Department, but by the expert, the same one with 2,000 conclusions in favor of the developers, to whom the Moscow City Heritage Site continues sacred to believe so far.
In May 2020, the initiative group filed claims in court. On December 10, the Butyrsky court introduced preliminary protection measures at the residents' claim. They consider it illegal to agree on the demolition of three buildings by the developer and the Department of Cultural Heritage and dispute the historical and cultural expertise. The statement mentions both the demolition and construction of a business center, which is incompatible with the regime of the combined security zone, and work on the territory of a cultural heritage site of federal and regional significance, which are incompatible with the regimes of these territories.
But now residents have sounded the alarm: Mosstroynadzor (Committee of State Construction Supervision of the city of Moscow) has issued a building permit, although this directly violates the court's prohibition to issue any permits before the end of the case.
On December 22, the developers struck through the court the abolition of protection measures, the activists appealed against them. On December 28, the court notified Mosstroynadzor (Committee of State Construction Supervision of the city of Moscow) that the protection measures were in place. But after 2 days, officials ignored the court's decision. Now the builders have a legal document on hand, and they can start work.
"This, in our opinion, is a deliberate non-execution of a judicial act. At the time of our conversation, there is a valid building permit. We believe that our opponents will go to the construction site and start with the demolition of the most valuable object - the chateau. If they do this, a crime will be committed, the destruction of a cultural heritage site of federal significance".
Mosstroynadzor (Committee of State Construction Supervision of the city of Moscow) received a request from the editorial board, but did not answer our questions. Yelena Zilonova says:
"We have hope, otherwise everything will be sad. Our legal position is firm and correct. The fact that she is being ignored is wrong and bad. But the chances are getting smaller and smaller every day".
Residents are well aware that buildings in the city center should not be empty, but instead of a faceless business center killing the urban environment, exhibition halls and workshops could be located here. Activists believe that there will be patrons of art who are ready to help buy the buildings. These plans can come true only on one condition - if tomorrow the developer does not decide to present everyone with a fait accompli.
People hope that they can decide the fate of monuments in the legal field, and that the court will support them. Since September 2020, they have been organizing peaceful protests - Khokhlovskie Standings. Residents organized a project in which they tell about the history of this place, conduct excursions and performances. But the developer sees these measures as an attack on himself and his construction plans.
The defenders of Gorka do not want to annoy the developer or the chief architect of Moscow. They, unlike developers and officials, see the city not as a collection of objects, but as a single space of memory:
"If you think about it, here and the land is more expensive precisely because this is a place with history. It is a piece of history that is taken and turned into money. Ultimately, someone will have even more money, and we all will not have history”, - says Sergey Kavtaradze.
Now the "keepers" are preparing a photo exhibition about Ivanovskaya Gorka. This is in the extreme case that if the buildings are nevertheless demolished, at least photographs will remain...