The Russian Federation has submitted two reports to the World Heritage Centre concerning the state of the conservation of the World Heritage property dated 12 July 2005 and December 2005 and received on 8 February 2006.
These reports do not meet the expectations of the World Heritage Committee as expressed in its decision at its 29th session. Both reports were prepared by the local management authority (Kizhi Museum) and do not show any involvement on the part of the national authorities in this process. They do not address any of the main recommendations made by the Committee concerning provision of information on the management of the property, updates on the status and determination of the buffer zone, information on risk preparedness measures in place for the entire property, and clarification on the impact of tourism on the values of the inscribed property. While to some extent both reports provide information on aspects of the construction work plan for the Church of the Transfiguration, the precise budget data requested is not provided, and the “Detailed Report” describes information that at the time of the 30th session will be 19 months out of date. The “Brief Report” of December 2005, together with its attached photos and chart showing “main stages of the restoration of the Transfiguration Church and the schedule of their implementation (1999-2014)” provides some updated information but is of limited value as the report is only one page in length.
The response of the State Party to the requests made by the World Heritage Committee at its 29th session is entirely inadequate, maintaining a pattern repeated over many years for this property of providing limited information to the Committee, prepared by the local management authorities without any understanding of the nature of the Committee’s requests. There is no evidence, in spite of the detailed planning and scheduling being carried out for the restoration work on the Church of the Transfiguration at the local level, that the national authorities have committed themselves to fund this work. No detailed budget for this work is available showing budget commitments over time. Nor is there any evidence of effort to address the larger over-arching issues important for the site and stated by the Committee in its recommendations: development of a management plan (which would address boundary issues, buffer zone definition and risk preparedness), and development of a tourism strategy.
A meeting of 100 conservation experts to identify conservation strategies for this property was already organized in 1988, two years before it was inscribed on the World Heritage List. A number of expert missions have taken place since to review the state of conservation of the property. All have highlighted the serious and specific dangers facing the property. Little evidence of commitment at the national level has come forth in those many years to provide confidence that the outstanding universal value recognized by the inscription is maintained.
ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre consider that the property should be placed on the World Heritage List in Danger, and that the property should not be removed from this List until the following benchmarks are agreed upon and reached:
a) Completion of restoration work on the Church of the Transfiguration;
b) The development and implementation of a comprehensive management plan for the property (addressing tourism development, risk preparedness, boundary definition and buffer zone issues).
The State Party should provide, by 1 February 2007, the outline plans and a timescale for the development of a comprehensive management plan and strategy, to provide a clear description of the restoration concept guiding the works on the Church of the Transfiguration, and a detailed long term (10 year) budget commitment for all activities on the site, prepared and endorsed by the concerned national authorities and the Ministry of Culture. Detailed benchmarks could then be agreed upon between the Advisory Bodies, the World Heritage Centre and the authorities.
An additional brief report with an explanatory note on the most important activities of the preparatory period and some updated information by the Kizhi Federal Museum was transmitted by the national authorities on 8 June 2006.
The report mentioned new information concerning, in particular the assembly and adjustment of the fire alarm system inside and outside of the Church, as well as the replacement of the old electric supply cabinet and installation of a new power supply, communication and alarm systems.
Some information concerning new restoration approaches and preparation of timber conservation was also provided. The report mentioned in particular, that the main cross has been reinforced temporally with metallic plates and that the zones infected by wood beetles have been identified. The entrance of the Church has been repaired and a metallic tie-bar installed in the northern wall of the refectory.
An attached chart showing the “main stages of the restoration of the Transfiguration Church and the schedule of their implementation (1999-2014)” is the same as provided in the previous reports. The report further notes that the annual monitoring of the stability of the property conducted by the Institute “Spetsproectrestavratsiya” shows continued stability of all monuments and indicates that none of then is considered to be in danger.
By letter of 9 June 2006, the authorities of the Russian Federation underline that they consider that the State Party is fulfilling its obligations concerning the protection of the property and object to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
However, the latest report provides no information concerning the detailed budget and funding sources, the overall state of conservation of the property, nor details of management measures for the property or the determination of the buffer zone, as requested by the Committee. As a result, the requests for information made by the Committee at its 29th session in Durban remain unanswered.