Monday, 20 January 2014

The new Gazprom tower in St. Petersburg - A monument to a dictator

Dictators and tyrants have always been keen on building huge monuments for themselves. Former KGB agent Vladimir Putin is no exception:

.... another Russian strongman is about to add his own spire, and message, to that skyline: a 465-metre tower that will serve as the new headquarters of OAO Gazprom, an arm of the state-owned giant that Russian President Vladimir Putin has nurtured into one of the biggest energy companies in the world, as well as an active tool of Kremlin power.
“This centre is a symbol of prestige for the President. You can find analogous buildings in Dubai and Pyongyang,” said Dmitry Litvinov, co-ordinator of a citizens’ group that opposes the project. The activists scored an unexpected victory last year when they forced Gazprom to move the tower to the outskirts of the city from its proposed location right in the historic heart of St. Petersburg. --

“We live in an authoritarian regime,” shrugs Mr. Litvinov. He says Mr. Putin backed down on the plans to build Gazprom’s new headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg only when UNESCO warned that it might cost the city its status as a World Heritage Site.
“Putin came to understand that the Lakhta Center had to be moved to preserve the whole idea of it,” Mr. Litvinov said. “There is no economic value to this project, it’s just about the image and the prestige of the President.”

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