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St. Petersburg Activists Claim Victory As Historic Building Saved From Demolition

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Activists in St. Petersburg are claiming victory after a court ruling saved a historic building from demolition, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The court ruled on June 7 that a decision by the local authorities to demolish the Rogov House was illegal and that the structure should not have been taken off the list of St. Petersburg's historic buildings.

On February 2, the city's Committee for Use of State Property and Protection of Historic Buildings decided that the Rogov House should no longer be designated a historic building.

Construction workers then started demolishing the building, but activists from the "Zhivoi Gorod" (Living City) movement blocked the demolition work by staging a round-the-clock protest.

Aleksandr Margolis, co-chairman of the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Society for Historic Buildings, told RFE/RL that the activists' victory is just the beginning.

He said Russian society has to learn how to protect its rights without breaking the law.

"Step by step, our citizens will learn that they have rights and it is possible to defend them in court," Margolis said.

The Rogov House is one of St. Petersburg's oldest buildings. It is close to the former home of the 19th-century Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin.