The Gazoskryob Chronicles Continue

A new chapter to the "Gazoskryob" or Gasscraper tower chronicles was added on June 27th, with the 2 year long planning process growing more absurd by the day.

Russia's state-controlled energy giant Gazprom has been planning the construction of a new office building near the centre of St. Petersburg, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The height of the skyscraper will be 396 metres, making the planned Gazprom tower one of the 10 tallest buildings in the world. At such a great height, the Gazprom skyscraper would be the first of its kind in a city whose tallest buildings are the domes and spires of historic buildings and cathedrals.

Recently, Gazprom announced a change in the design of the tower, adding a new environmentally-friendly angle to the story. The proposed green addition would include using plants to control the building's temperature, keeping the building cool in summer and warm in winter.

However, it seems that even this green news has not distracted the determined opponents of this planned project. Protesters have been active since the beginning and the number of opponents is growing steadily and now includes many well known public figures including celebrities such as Garry Kasparov and political groups such as the opposition Yablonko party. Protests have come in many forms over the years including organized marches, with protesters' main concern being the obstructed historic skyline. Grigory Yavlinsky of Yablonko has even been quoted as describing the tower as "ugly... absurd, shameless, and a disgraceful idea."

Last Friday, a legally required public hearing took place to address the now-peaked concern over the construction of this tower. Administrative officials were met with both protesters and, surprisingly, supporters. However, opponents claimed that the approximately 300 supporters who showed up at the hearing were hired film extras from a local movie studio. The activists even said they had video evidence of these extras being hired, saying the extras were to be paid 400 rubles (about $17) each for their acting. The supporters of the Gazprom tower were identifying themselves with a movement called Novy Peterburg (New Petersburg), which had not only been previously unheard of, but whose website had also been launched only a day before the hearing. Suspicious stuff indeed!

No final decision has yet been made about the fate of the skyscraper - a story that has already brought St. Petersburg international attention with its controversy and now, its growing absurdity!


not shown