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New Protest In St. Petersburg Against Proposed Skyscraper

An artist's conception of the Okhta-Center
An artist's conception of the Okhta-Center
ST. PETERSBURG -- A collective of civic and professional organizations has screened a film against the construction of the Okhta-Center, a controversial skyscraper planned for the center of the city's historic downtown, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The showing of the film "SOS Petersburg" on July 2 is the most recent protest against the towering building, which if built would be the tallest in Europe at 403 meters. It would not only be the first skyscraper in the city but one of the first buildings taller than 100 meters.

The film -- a series of some 100 interviews with famous Russians, like Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrosky and film director Aleksandr Sorokin -- urges city officials to stop a project they say "spits on the history of the city."

The skyscraper has been controversial since plans were announced in 2006. UNESCO, the UN's cultural organization, has written letters to the St. Petersburg government warning that construction of the building could harm St. Petersburg's status on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

But some similarly famous names -- such as choreographer Boris Eifman and the head the St. Petersburg society of cinematographers, Dmitri Meskhiev -- have sent a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in support of the tower's construction.

Recently, Medvedev -- who is from St. Petersburg -- sided with UNESCO, saying that he thinks plans for the building should be rethought.