Culture News Politics Society, 12/01/2017

Civic Activists Fighting Against Unlawful Architecture Contest

Today the representatives of three NGOs “Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center”, “Urban Reforms” and “Critical Thinking” told at their press conference in Nakipelo media centre about the lawsuit they filed to cancel an official municipal tender for a design of an infamous memorial at Maidan Svobody.

The official contest was announced in November 2016 by the City Council offering to work out new designs for the memorial to replace knocked down Lenin’s monument. The deadline for projects submission was January 20, 2017.

Though the activists claim the official contest was organized with serious violations of law. Moreover according to them the tender is only announced to hide backroom corruption agreement, while the project has been approved already.

The secretly approved design got published on social networks due to insiders’ leakage and it had stirred Kharkivites’ furious protests and mocking as the “monument” looked vulgar and flashy. Kharkivites are sure such monument would make Kharkiv historical centre ugly.

“What kind of memory is to be honored by this memorial thing? Which event or person? And it is planned to be installed in the central part of our city, so the project must be negotiated with us, with the residents, with the professionals,” argues Oleksandra Naryzhna, architect and head of the NGO “Urban Reforms”.

“The contest was held behind-the-scenes,” states Dmytro Bulakh, member of the Kharkiv city council and NGO “Kharkiv Anti-corruption Center”. “The authorities are not ready to discuss this issue with the citizens and activist architects. But we can’t let this horrible thing be mounted in the central square, which is a symbolic place for every Kharkivite”.

The activists went to court at the end of December last year after the public servants rejected the collective letter signed by 1 000 city residents requiring to make the tender open and international. All people who care about Kharkiv image are welcome to attend the court session to be held in January 2017.

Also the initiators of the international contest have started a fundraising campaign and plan to engage international sponsors and foundations. About UAH 2 mln (approximately $70 thousand) are needed, and the first prize of 20 thousand Euro would help to involve world famous professionals the activists affirm.