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Expat group fights to save Moscow's heritage

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A group of expatriate architects and journalists based in Russia have set up an organisation to campaign for the preservation of Moscow's built heritage.

The Moscow Architectural Preservation Society (MAPS) was founded last week to save the many historic buildings threatened by a 'profit-driven breaker's ball backed by city hall'.

The UNESCO-backed group was set up following a spate of suspicious fires in historic buildings and 'numerous cases of unsympathetic reconstruction'.

The campaigners - who are in the process of launching a website to disseminate information in both Russian and English - are currently concerned about the House of the Rubber Workers, which was built in 1927 by Melnikov.

The Times Higher Education Supplement's Moscow correspondent, Nick Holdsworth, a founding member of MAPS, said the building boom had triggered major concerns.

'There is a situation whereby we know that big business is in cahoots with the city authorities, which means they can do almost anything they want, ' he said. 'This is exemplified by the wife of the mayor, who is in construction and is Russia's first female billionaire.

'What we are witnessing in terms of architectural destruction is something worse than what even Stalin achieved in the 1930s, ' Holdsworth added.

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