Urban Dispute: Public Council Advocates For Preserving Moscow Summer

Gayane Abrahamyan

ArmeniaNow reporter
Arts and CultureArts and Culture | 29.04.10 | 16:13

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The Public Council of Armenia has announced its disapproval of plans
to build a church on the site of the outdoor Moscow cinema theater.

The Council made its decision after heated discussions (17 for, 6
against) and appealed to the Government to restore the Moscow Cinema
summer hall on the list of sites preserved for historic-cultural value.

According to the decree of the Government of Armenia (March 4), the
amphitheater was donated to the Armenian Apostolic Church, for the
purpose of demolishing the theater and building a church. St. Paul
and Peter (Poghos-Petros) Church stood on the location until the 1930s.

(By the same decision, the theater was removed from the list of
protected structures.)

Architects started a stormy fight against the decision to build
the church, organizing a signature-collection drive which garnered
23,000 signatures.

On March 17, Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan stated at the
National Assembly of Armenia, that Moscow Cinema has architectural
value, however, it is not a historic-cultural value and it is removed
from the list of historic-cultural values."

"The Government of Armenia respects the opinions of the owner of the
building and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin," Sargsyan said.

Architects, in their turn, appeal to respect opinions of thousands
of citizens.

Vazgen Manukyan, Chairman of the Public Council, first prime minister
of Armenia, says that "personally is against the demolition of the
summer hall."

"It is necessary to clarify that the problem here is not whether to
construct a church, but rather whether to demolish a building with
historic-cultural value," Manukyan says.

He also added that the previous day he had talked to His Holiness
for an hour and half.

"His concern is that the building does not serve its purpose. He is
going to meet architects and negotiate with them. His Holiness treats
this issue very carefully," Manukyan says.

Sevada Petrosyan, one of the organizers of the ‘Save Moscow Cinema
Summer Hall’ initiative, believes that the decision of the Public
Council "is very important."

"First, it is a very good example proving that the voice of the public
reaches higher instances; one of the main goals of the Public Council
is securing it. And I am glad that they responded," architect Petrosyan
told ArmeniaNow, hoping that the decision of the Public Council will
be taken into consideration.

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