“There is a struggle for the sympathy of Petersburgers.” Why is the high relief with Mephistopheles important and how (seemingly) it was possible to achieve its restoration

Housing Committee of St. Petersburg declaredthat the overhaul fund will restore the high relief of Mephistopheles, knocked down from Lishnevsky’s apartment building in 2015. The work will be supervised by the Committee for the Protection of Monuments.

By informal version, Mephistopheles was demolished by order of church activists: in 2010, the church of Xenia of Petersburg began to be built nearby with the support of the former speaker of the Sachs, Vyacheslav Makarov. Prosecutor’s office excited criminal case, but did not bring to justice industrial climber Konstantin Isakov and businessman Vasily Shchedrin who confessed to the destruction of the high relief (they paid a fine of 664 thousand rubles).

The act of vandalism caused public discontent. An initiative group emerged found sculptor and fought for the restoration of the monument for several years. But still the authorities and contractors cited for lack of funds.

About the value of Mephistopheles and how the locals (not) managed to achieve his restoration, “Paper” said a member of the initiative group Daniil Kotsyubinsky.

journalist, historian

– In 2015, you, along with several Petersburgers, actively joined the struggle for the restoration of Mephistopheles. KGIOP agreed with you, but everything calmed down. Why?

– The initiative group officially ceased its activities after the officials, together with the restorers de facto subject to them, brought the restoration of the high relief to a virtual dead end.

I talk about it in detail told back in April 2017. And this statement was also part of our struggle. We made it clear to the townspeople that from now on, the salvation of Mephistopheles is a matter for civil society as a whole, and not just an initiative group, which by itself was powerless to defeat the bureaucratic leviathan.

Why is this memorial important to you?

— The value of the high relief destroyed by vandal officials and their accomplices is the same as any other iconic St. Petersburg architectural, monumental, artistic masterpiece. After all, all this is the foundation of St. Petersburg cultural and historical identity. Without the high relief of Mephistopheles, we Petersburgers are like without a particle of ourselves. This is what hurts and what is missing every day.

Just as every day it hurts when you see the once impeccable sky line of the Neva, now barbarously hacked by hulks “Mont Blanc” and skyscrapers “a la a disposable syringe” on Pirogovskaya embankment, as well as the silhouette of the “Gazoskreb” corncob on Lakhta.

Petersburgers, I am sure, will never put up with these crimes against our cultural and national self-consciousness, which is common to all, regardless of ideological and political predilections. And sooner or later, the destroyed “shrines”, including the high relief of Mephistopheles on Lishnevsky’s house on Lakhtinskaya Street, will be restored, and the gigantic remake deformities will be demolished.

– What has changed now, why was the money for the restoration of Mephistopheles found?

– Even at the moment when A. D. Beglov was acting governor, the magazine “City 812”, whose editor-in-chief Sergey Baluev was in the initiative group, published material. The bottom line was that if Beglov wants to do something really popular and useful for the city on the eve of the elections, then let him immediately restore Mephistopheles.

And in the future, “Gorod 812”, “Novaya Gazeta in St. Petersburg”, MR7, “Fontanka” and other popular and authoritative publications among the townspeople regularly reminded about the fact that the restoration of Mephistopheles is the most important and significant task that Petersburgers have set for the city authorities.

Recently, as you can see, in the “tops” escalated “fight for St. Petersburg”, in particular between businessman Prigogine and governor Beglov. It is noteworthy that this struggle goes not only along the lines of denunciations and compromising evidence, but also along the lines of the struggle for the sympathy of the St. Petersburg public. And first of all, the city protection community as the most representative and reflecting the mentality of almost all Petersburgers, regardless of their general political views.

On the part of Beglov’s opponents, as I understand it, a completely fair “attack” on KGIOP was initiated, which allowed the destruction and destruction of buildings – objects of urban architectural heritage. It is not surprising that, for their part, Smolny and KGIOP decided to “remember” the fate of Mephistopheles, whom they purposefully did not give a chance for restoration for seven years.

I see in such “body movements” of officials, both federal and city, evidence that sooner or later they are forced to reckon with the position of the St. Petersburg city protection community, because it is precisely this that is the foundation of St. Petersburg civil society as a whole. And because every time she makes it clear that she will fight for the preservation of St. Petersburg as a world cultural heritage site, despite the deaf resistance from bureaucratic structures, headed, in fact, not by elected citizens, but by leaders appointed “from above” who do not appreciate, do not protecting and, I think, not understanding and not feeling Petersburg as a single cultural and historical whole.

I also note that there is no need to talk about any final victory so far. We have been deceived and “deceived” so many times, the restoration process has been sabotaged so many times that until I see the facade of the Lishnevsky house in its authentic form, I will consider that the struggle for the revival of the high relief continues.

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