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Russian High Court Rules Against St. Petersburg Skyscraper

The skyscraper would have been St. Petersburg's first
The skyscraper would have been St. Petersburg's first
MOSCOW -- The Russian Constitutional Court has ruled against the construction of the controversial Okhta Center skyscraper in St. Petersburg's historic downtown, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The court argued on July 22 that when approving construction projects in the historical part of the city, St. Petersburg's city government should adhere to Russian law as well as international laws on cultural-heritage preservation.

Boris Vishnevsky, a member of the opposition party Yabloko, told RFE/RL that he hopes the judgment will serve as a precedent for any future suits.

"In the judgment it is written in black and white that all building measurements are [to be] set down by the Russian Commission of Cultural Preservation -- and the commission does not approve a 100-meter high tower, not to mention one that is 400 meters tall," Vishnevsky said.

Plans for the 400-meter skyscraper have generated controversy since they were first unveiled in 2006. The Okhta Center would have been the first skyscraper in St. Petersburg.

UNESCO, the UN's cultural organization, wrote several letters to St. Petersburg's government warning that construction of the building could endanger St. Petersburg's status on UNESCO's World Heritage list.