The World Heritage Centre of UNESCO has welcomed the support given by the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, to the World Heritage Committee's decision regarding "The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and the Related Group of Monuments" which requested that work on the construction of the Okhta Centre Tower be suspended and that new designs reducing the building's height be considered.

The World Heritage Committee is opposed to the construction of the 400-metre tower as it will affect the cityscape of historic Saint Petersburg, inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage in 1990. 

"I hope that the President's position on the safeguarding of Saint Petersburg will prove decisive in preserving the visual integrity and outstanding universal value of one of the most authentic and important Historic Cities of the world. In preserving the city, Russia would be making an inestimable gift to the world," said Mr Francesco Bandarin, Director of the World Heritage Centre.

"In keeping with the decision of the World Heritage Committee, and with the views of all those, in St Petersburg and around the world, that are engaged in the preservation of urban historic heritage such as St Petersburg, we hope that the authorities will explore other architectural solutions to replace current plans for the construction of the Okhta Centre Tower," Mr Bandarin added.

"Preservation does not mean an end to growth and development. It requires, however, designing solutions respectful of the character and values of the historic environment," concluded Mr Bandarin.

During its annual meeting in 2009, the World Heritage Committee asked the Russian Federation to suspend work on the Okhta Centre Tower and submit a new design for the centre along with an environmental impact assessment.

The Committee, consisting of a rotating membership of 21 States that are party to the World Heritage Convention, will discuss developments in Saint Petersburg when it next meets in Brasilia in late July this year. The Committee is the body in charge of implementing the World Heritage Convention and maintaining the World Heritage List.

For more information about the World Heritage Committee's decisions regarding Saint Petersburg: