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Russians Protest Historic Factory's Demolition

The historic former firearms factory in Izhevsk
The historic former firearms factory in Izhevsk
IZHEVSK, Russia -- Residents of the central Russian city of Izhevsk have protested the planned destruction of one of the city's oldest buildings, RFE/RL Russian Service reports.

Authorities decided to demolish the former administrative headquarters of the city's metal factory at a closed-door meeting of Izhevsk's city Duma earlier this month.

Built in 1890, the factory manufactured Soviet motorcycles, hunting rifles, and most famously, Kalashnikov rifles. A sign hanging outside the former factory declares it a "historic, cultural monument."

After the demolition was announced, residents began posting appeals on Internet forums for people to help save "the history of our hometown!"

On June 29, some 15 people protested outside the Duma. They gave petitions to government officials as they arrived at the building protesting the decision, which they called "rushed." They also demanded a survey of civic leaders and organizations be held.

Many of the picketers are members of the civic group In Defense of Izhevsk, which was formed earlier this month.

Andrei Kulikov, the organizer of the protest, told RFE/RL one reason the factory is so important to city residents.

"[The inventor of the Mosin-Nagrant rifle], Sergei Ivanovich Mosin, worked here. We respect him like Americans respect Samuel Colt and Germans [respect] Paul Mauser."

Kulikov said that the city government's decision to demolish the building is like "spitting on Izhevsk's history."

The issue was not discussed by the Duma at its meeting on June 29.