On the eve of the World Cup in Nizhny Novgorod, it became known about the planned cleaning of the city center from old houses located in prominent places. Unsightly buildings, it was decided to permanently remove from the eyes of passers-by. But city defenders intervened, and now about fifty houses, settled and ready for death, may gain a second life - as part of entire tourist quarters.
Preservation of the old Nizhny Novgorod would be impossible without the many years of struggle that these people have waged and are leading for every house, every quarter. The methods of confrontation have always been different: from sending requests and publishing articles to blocking the road and the campground in the very center of the city. Life around talked with the Nizhny Novgorod city defenders about victories and defeats, strikes and dismissals, the indifference of citizens and how to defend the whole quarter.
journalist, civic activist
This year marks the 30th anniversary of our tent Maidan on Maxim Gorky Square. This was probably the most hopeless story that ended in the biggest victory.
In 1988, the metro construction project was approved in the Nizhny Novgorod region. Under the knife was to go half the square on Gorky Square and a huge amount of historical buildings in the surrounding territories. All approvals have been received. We wrote to various ministries and departments, collected signatures, and held rallies. But nothing yielded results.
We were called marginals, although activists were supported by many experts, including Valentin Naydenko, the rector of the current NNGASU. The state machine was launched - in early May, concrete slabs began to be laid, on which a fence with the letter M was to appear
We were desperate. In the evening, together with several friends, we came to Gorky Square and near the monument put up two tents with posters in protest. The time was "vegetarian": no one dared to touch us. In the morning we woke up quite late, because we had not slept for a long time. And suddenly they saw that thousands of people are standing and walking around our tents! It was so unexpected! Veterans at full combat awards stood under the crane, which unloaded concrete blocks. Soon there were three, four tents ... A whole town appeared. People did not leave the square, day or night.
The administration, the police, the KGB tried to threaten us. The city authorities convened an “explanatory” meeting at the headquarters, and the protesters practically seized the meeting and elected their own presidium. Then for the first time in the city a broadcast was arranged. Thousands of people stood on the street.
If people were now ready to actively defend their rights to anything - from the environment to protection from torture - now, probably, many problems would have been solved
Then a commission of specialists was created, headed by our supporter Valentin Naydenko. We found out that the project is unreasonable; full geological surveys have not been carried out; that the projected slopes are on the verge of normal, that is, close to dangerous. Based on the work of the commission, a report was made that the construction of the metro in this place by an open way of laying is a big problem for the city. The project was canceled, and it was a completely unexpected victory.
Tents remained on the square for about a month. We have collected several hundred thousand signatures against the project. Such an example of massive, powerful civic solidarity. If people were now ready to actively defend their rights to anything - from the environment to protection from torture - now, probably, many problems would have been solved.
lawyer, town advocate
Six years ago, I worked as an assistant to a deputy of the regional Legislative Assembly. The reception was located in the Nizhny Novgorod region, so we received residents of the city center, many of whom regularly reported the destruction of elements of the historical environment or damage to cultural heritage sites. So I met with the Nizhny Novgorod city defenders.
I knew that activists are constantly in touch: if something happened to a particular house, everyone received an SMS newsletter. Once, on the way to work, I also received a message. On Bolshaya Pokrovskaya it was planned to demolish a wooden house number 98. Equipment arrived. We, Stas Dmitrievsky and several other activists, barricaded ourselves inside the building to prevent demolition. After some time, riot police appeared, we were taken out of there and taken to the department. Then I was not scared. I clearly understood that the truth was on our side: the house was valuable and decorated the city center. He did not deserve demolition for the construction of another shopping center.
This was my first administrative arrest for disobeying the demand of a police officer, more precisely, for protecting a good house. Now I understand that all laws in our country have loopholes in order to drag a solution for a specific person at the right time. The Federal Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage Objects (OKN) was no exception. Under the governor Shantsev, he was used to get rid of old houses.
The city has remained the last frontiers of historical wooden buildings, if nothing is done - there will be nothing to save, the city has finally lost its historical face
So, for example, we almost lost a part of the complex of the Bashkirov Mill WINDOW complex on Garshina Street. In the interests of the builder, the regional department of state conservation of monuments deprived the building of its protective status. We prevented them: depriving the object of "protection" is possible only after examination, and only the federal body: the Ministry of Culture, had authority for this.
In 2017, Stas and I succeeded in almost incredible things: to stop the development of the territory along the streets of Studenoi - Slavyanskaya in the area of the Three Saints Church. Auctions for the right to develop built-up territories were announced. They assumed the demolition of this picturesque quarter. Together with Irina Agafonova, we went to the picket in the Kremlin and got a meeting with the head of the city, Elizaveta Solonchenko. We explained that the city remained the last frontiers of historical wooden buildings, if nothing was done, there would be nothing to save, the city had completely lost its historical face. When the auctions were canceled, we quickly mothballed houses and filed applications for recognizing them as identified OKNs.
In the summer, the Tom Sawyer Fest festival took place for the first time: residents and investors repaired old buildings on their own. A pilot project has now begun: an investor from Moscow is ready to repair one of the houses along Korolenko Street. For this, it is necessary that the municipal program for the preferential transfer of such houses, “Ruble per meter,” begin to work. True, while she is slipping.
participant of the movement "Nizhny Novgorod Civil Resistance"
Six years ago, houses were cleaned in the quarter of Novaya, Ilyinskaya, Maxim Gorky streets. We fought for the preservation of the house of the merchant, Guzeeva, located on Ilyinskaya Street, 126. By the beginning of the demolition, he was in excellent condition. Moreover, he was already under the protection of the law as an identified object of cultural heritage.
Realizing that they could demolish the house at any moment, they organized round-the-clock duty. One day, just on the way to Ilyinka, we saw an excavator near the building, which began to crush the wall of the building and had already demolished part of the ceilings.
The police did not want to go to our call, and employees of the private security company began to force out the activists from the house of activists. We could not calmly watch how illegally destroying a unique house, so we went for emergency measures. All the activists who were there joined hands and completely blocked traffic on Ilyinskaya Street. Cars and trams got up for half an hour.
Now there are many indifferent: people do not believe that anything depends on their efforts
Then the police arrived, the city prosecutor showed up. The demolition of the house was stopped, but on completely different formal grounds: there were no fences, passers-by could suffer. We managed to delay the destruction of this and other houses in the quarter. But no more - later we lost the court on the inclusion of Guzeeva’s house in the registry of OKN, and in the end it was demolished.
It was not the first house that I defended, but the first experience of such an active participation. I began to engage in civic activism in parallel with political activity, because I believe that any citizen (if he is really a citizen) is obliged to protect our cultural and historical heritage. Now there are many indifferent: people do not believe that anything depends on their efforts.
In 2013, I lost my job after talking with Mayor Oleg Sorokin. In those days, the anniversary of Maxim Gorky was celebrated, and I went up to Sorokin to talk about the demolition of the historical building, which was carried out by the Sorokinsky company with scandal. I said that if we really want to take care of the cultural heritage, then we need a more constructive approach. We didn’t succeed in a full-fledged dialogue, the video of our conversation went to many media outlets, and after that my leadership was instructed to fire me.
I knew what I was talking about. I then worked in a company engaged in the development of restoration projects - I wrote historical notes for them. Once, sitting in the archive, I realized that there are less and less ancient buildings. The impetus for real action was a piece of stucco molding that fell to his feet from house number 4 on Varvarskaya street. Then I wrote the first statement about the improper maintenance of the OKN. Subsequently, it became clear that there would be no progress on the part of officials. For ten years, the former governor Shantsev and the head of the Heritage Conservation Department, Khokhlov, systematically legalized the destruction of the old city.
We fought and won. After my statement, a group of Nizhny Novgorod businessmen were not allowed to build a three-story Pyramid restaurant on the Volga slope, in the security zone of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, which would spoil the beautiful historical and cultural landscape. They received all management permissions. But, as the court found, the permits were illegal. That summer, SpasGrad was formed - a public town-protecting movement. For six years we have experienced a lot. It was possible to protect squares and parks from building. Much less often, the happy end of the defense of historic houses ended. The house with the Belvedere house, Chebotarev’s house disappeared, the point building at the "Arestantsky mouth" began, on Sergievskaya Street, on the Upper Volga Embankment, the rigging factory complex was demolished, making a parking place in its place.
Our merit is that we talked a lot about this, the topic of heritage preservation has become one of the leading ones in the media and has reached the federal level
Meanwhile, over the past year, the situation in the region has changed dramatically: the mayor and the head of the region have changed, which brought other teams. The new governor said his personal goal was to preserve the historic city. Some auctions for the right to develop historic sites and demolish old buildings were suspended. In 2018, 31 houses immediately received the status of identified objects of cultural heritage! This is an unprecedented practice for Russia.
If there had not been a six-year struggle and our experience, perhaps we would not have come to that positive now. Our merit is that we talked a lot about this, the topic of heritage preservation has become one of the leading ones in the media and has reached the federal level. The new governor who arrived here could no longer ignore the social demand that had been formed for a careful attitude to the city's historical heritage.
In 2018, we first held the Tom Sawyer Fest Historic Restoration Festival. We managed to raise a million rubles for the repair and conservation of valuable buildings. Another 1.2 million rubles were allocated by the city hall. Now we want to see how much money one of the repaired objects will bring - a house on Korolenko Street, 18. After the festival, it became the object of a tourist show. Such buildings, in principle, can provide for themselves - not only as areas for housing, but also as museum spaces, souvenir shops, and this is a very good start. The story with the continuation.
human rights activist
For a long time I defended the rights of the residents of the decrepit fund and sought to be given new, full-fledged housing instead of the old ones. An exception for me was the demolition of historical buildings on Ilyinskaya street. Then I was so indignant at the injustice that I went out into the street with other activists.
The situation with the demolition of houses on Ilyinskaya-Novaya was extraordinary. Ilyinka is the same unique street as Bolshaya Pokrovskaya or Rozhdestvenskaya, which has preserved its appearance unchanged. To stick a new, distinguished by architecture, number of storeys house on the first line was crazy. This meant breaking the beauty of the whole street.
House number 126 on Ilyinskaya Street fell into the demolition boundaries - beautiful, renovated, adapted for modern use. This building was one of the few examples of the restoration of historical objects with investor funds. All apartments in it were repaired and adapted for shops, offices. The house lived.
The plot was transferred to the developer under an agreement on the development of the built-up territory. As a rule, such agreements provide for the demolition and resettlement of old houses - this is good for the budget and people. However, in this case, the resettlement was carried out at the expense of the regional budget. The developer did not fulfill the social function. Moreover, he intended to demolish the recently renovated kindergarten, which supposedly prevented him.
The authorities showed no respect for this worthy woman. Not even an attempt was made to save this house. When the pensioner died, the building was immediately demolished
While the scandal developed, the authorities brazenly lied, indicating reasons that were not true. The more arguments there were, the more clearly this lie was heard.
The head of the Nizhny Novgorod region said that the demolition began at the request of the residents of the decrepit fund. However, the house of the merchant, Guzeeva, was not residential. Moreover, the owner of house No. 46 on Novaya Lidiya Davydova-Pecherkina Street fought physically desperately against his demolition. This woman, as far as she could, watched the building and defended it - it was not new, but strong. The authorities showed no respect for this worthy woman. Not even an attempt was made to save this house. When the pensioner died, the building was immediately demolished.
This story is outrageous and unfair. I must honestly say: the houses prevented Oleg Sorokin from building a housing complex and making a profit. We were not against the developer. We asked to preserve the continuity of these stone houses on the red line, a valuable historical building.
Architectural critic, leader of the Open Arrow movement
For me, as for most Nizhny Novgorod residents, the territory of the Nizhny Novgorod port has always been closed, since it was a sensitive facility. In 2011-2013, I was the co-curator of the experiments of Xavier Giglio - French teacher of architecture school La Ville. Thanks to this, three springs in a row we could visit the territory of Strelka. During this time, examined, mastered and loved her.
In 2013, in Nizhny Novgorod, they started talking about building a stadium. I was concerned about this issue, but I believed that Strelka was occupied by professionals. Two years later, on a tour of the Volga and Oka capes, we went into the warehouses - the depots abandoned by then. It was interesting that they are without any garbage. And they saw openwork metal structures made obviously not in our century. We are all stunned with delight at this beauty.It was some kind of revelation! They understood that it was impossible to miss, and then I convened a press conference to state this fact, to consolidate information about it.
Later, I was convinced that everything was done correctly. Many architects later said that they had heard a long time ago that Strelka had preserved the elements of the All-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition of 1896. However, nobody, designing the further development of the territory, did not envisage the preservation of this incredible value. Everywhere they were transported somewhere, transported, remelted.
The history and fate of these designs began to be actively discussed; the theme was picked up by the museum of Svyatoslav Agafonov. But a year later, I discovered that everything remains at the level of conversation. No one even deigned to go into the archives and find out what kind of structure. But they started talking about the Orthodox park of military glory.
The port territory was not just a place for new construction, it was the memory of the city, which is very important
I did not want to lose this place. I wanted to understand what could be done with him besides football. A public discussion started around Strelka, it became clear that people have a lot of personal stories related to this location: someone worked in the port, someone visited there in their student years ... The port territory was not just a place for new construction, it was the memory of the city, which is very important.
In 2016, the Open Arrow association was created. We began to prepare for a town-planning council under the governor, but no “public relations” came about. Our job offers did not reach the ears of officials.
In February 2017, we held a very important conference in the Nizhny Novgorod arsenal, which opened different meanings, cultural codes of Strelka and outlined development vectors. Great specialists came. Among ours is the founder of the Make Understanding Foundation Galina Filimonova, who later spoke at the Great Rivers international forum and spoke about archival discoveries.
I believe that we have succeeded surprisingly. Despite the resistance of officials, despite the demolition of port cranes, the destruction of the bunker (which could become a museum!), Ancient structures stand on Strelka. And this is absolutely their place. Port and fragments of the exhibition are a symbol.