Kizhi Pogost

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 1994*
  • Financial resources
  • Governance
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of fire /lightning protection; Deformation and deterioration of the structures

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Legal framework;
  • Governance;
  • Management systems/ management plan;
  • Financial resources;
  • Lack of fire /lightning protection;
  • Deformation and deterioration of the structures
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1994
Requests approved: 1 (from 1992-1992)
Total amount approved : 9,000 USD
1992 Mission of 3 experts to define the state of ... (Approved)   9,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1994**

Summer 1993: ICOMOS mission

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994
Report prepared by ICOMOS
Kizhi Pogost, Russian Federation (C 544)


ICOMOS has been involved in collaboration with the authorities responsible for this site since the autumn of 1988, two years prior to its inscription on the World Heritage List. At that time, the USSR conservation official Jonas Glemza (then a Vice-President of ICOMOS) organized an international symposium at the site for 108 conservation professionals, including ICOMOS's International Wood and Vernacular Architecture Committees, in order to examine conservation problems at the site. The Wood Committee's recommendations were adopted at the time and have served informally to guide activity at the site ever since.

Following inscription on the World Heritage List in December 1990, the site entered a period of further difficulties, at least in the short term, during the transfer of authority to the Russian Federation from the former Soviet Union. Many of the site's current problems relate to uncertainties over budget, priorities, and responsibility within the new government as it continues to organize itself.

ICOMOS was invited to undertake an exploratory mission in October 1992 to examine the degree of urgency and the nature of the problems at the site. This mission (in summer 1993) resulted in an extended period of field visits and exchanges between an invited group of eight ICOMOS conservation specialists from Canada, Finland, Germany, and Norway, and more than twenty-five of their Russian counterparts.

Given Russia's difficulties in paying its World Heritage contribution, no financial or technical assistance has been possible from the World Heritage Fund for this site. Using extra-budgetary contributions made by the Canadian Government to UNESCO for ICOMOS projects, ICOMOS has taken the initiative to bridge the gap in the short term, given the severity of the problems at the site. This group's recommendations were presented to the World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Cartagena in December 1993 and accepted as a. basis for further involvement by ICOMOS during 1994.

ICOMOS Canada conservation architect Andrew Powter has continued to lead coordination of technical efforts for conservation planning at the site. However, in spite of the Committee's ongoing encouragement for the project and a further extra-budgetary contribution by Canada (through UNESCO to ICOMOS) in 1994 to support travel expenses, project momentum has been difficult to maintain. Political circumstances in Russia remain difficult, and few significant financial resources for project support appear to be available.

Current situation

In early May 1994 Andrew Powter met the Vice-Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Mr Mikhail Shvidkoy, accompanied by Ministry staff and Russian professionals (including two members of the Russian ICOMOS National Committee, Makovetskii and Semenova) in Moscow. His status report (available from ICOMOS) presents a fairly positive view, despite the continuing problems. It is clear that the Russian authorities have made considerable improvements for site conservation and management in the two years since the initial mission. Improvements to legislation covering the site and the assignment by the Russian authorities of an individual responsible on site for ongoing liaison and coordination with the Russian authorities (architect Tatyana Vachromeyeva) have been key factors in this improvement.

The meeting's primary conclusions were the following:

  1. ICOMOS would continue in 1994 to attempt to assist the Russian authorities in clarifying conclusions in four defined problem areas (structural engineering, mycology, fire protection, and documentation management and computerization). This would require visits by several ICOMOS experts during the summer and autumn of 1994.
  2. The planned concept review meeting has been postponed until January/February 1995. Its focus will be on the feasibility of various engineering solutions for the Church of the Transfiguration now developed. (The current Canadian extra-budgetary funding of $18,750 may be used until 31 March 1995.) ICOMOS believes very firmly that the significance of this extraordinary wooden building, its current extreme fragility, and the unusual nature of the structural problems warrant examination of various alternatives by a qualified international expert panel.
  3. ICOMOS did not respond positively to requests to use the limited funds available to buy equipment, in particular advanced computers. It has, however, begun to pursue available funding sources for equipment purchase on behalf of the authorities, with a reasonable chance of success. The purpose of the ICOMOS funding has always been conceived as supporting, in association with Russian professionals, the development of a well thought out and integrated conservation plan for the site, not to substitute for missing national funding support, no matter how worthwhile or needed. The request points out the obstacles to long-term conservation success, which will remain until the Russian Government is able to overcome its current financial difficulties.


This report to the Bureau is for information only, and no action is requested. ICOMOS will provide a detailed report to the Committee in December, including a long-term assessment of conservation problems at the site for the decade to come.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

[Oral report to the World Heritage Committee]  

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1994
Kizhi Pogost (Russian Federation)

Kizhi Pogost (Russian Federation)

It was recalled that since 1991 ICOMOS had presented to the Committee and the Bureau reports on its involvement in the monitoring of this site and on the efforts to conserve and restore its monuments. ICOMOS reported that the legal protection of the monument and the buffer zone had been considerably improved and that a conservation professional had been assigned. The workplan for 1994 had been completed and included:

  • the installation of a system of lightning protection as part of a major reworking of fire protection and security at the site;
  • studies of wood deterioration conditions; measurement of deformations by hand and photogrammetric techniques;
  • analysis of defects to the iconostasis.
  • completion of the structural analysis is scheduled for the end of January 1995.

A short and a long-term budget and workplans had been established and ICOMOS involvement was foreseen for its implementation. In view of the financial constraints in the Russian Federation, ICOMOS recommended the following:

  • high priority be given to undertaking with the Russian and other national authorities, a full discussion of feasible alternative strategies for continued support and activity in conjunction with the already planned March 1995 concept selection meeting;
  • on-going monitoring activity be continued; and
  • other funding sources be identified and coordinated with the approved conservation plan and priority site needs.

The Committee endorsed these recommendations and requested ICOMOS in consultation with the Secretariat to implement them.

Kizhi Pogost (Russian Federation)

The Bureau was informed of the considerable improvements for site conservation and management in the two years since the initial mission. These improvements were achieved with the support of the Canadian Government. The Bureau noted with satisfaction that ICOMOS will provide a detailed report to the Committee session in December, including a long-term assessment of conservation problems at the site for the decade to come.

No draft Decision

Report year: 1994
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1990
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iv)(v)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.