Red Banner Textile Factory: File under “Real Estate”

Erich Mendelsohn's power plant for the Red Banner Textile Factory, July 31, 2016. The construction site of Baltic Commerce's dubiously named Mendelsohn Housing Complex is located immediately to the left of the plant. Photo by the Russian Reader
Erich Mendelsohn’s power plant for the Red Banner Textile Factory, July 31, 2016. The construction site of Baltic Commerce’s dubiously named Mendelsohn Housing Complex is located immediately to the left of the plant. Photo by the Russian Reader

ICOMOS Asks the Smolny to Reconsider Project for Redeveloping Red Banner Factory
September 2, 2016

Russian and German specialists from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have published an open letter requesting plans to construct a residential building next to Erich Mendelsohn’s power station at Pionerskaya Street, 53, in Petersburg, be reconsidered and the Red Banner Textile Factory be recognized as a federally protected constructivist-era landmark.

The letter was published on the website of the Petersburg branch of ICOMOS. It was signed by six specialists from Russia and Germany, including Petersburgers Margarita Stieglitz and Sergei Gorbatenko.

The Red Banner Factory on Pionerskaya Street is “the only major work by the great German architect Erich Mendelsohn in Russia. […] Globally, it is a key work of avant-garde industrial architecture,” the specialists write in the letter.

Nevertheless, the landmark is in poor condition. Neither preservation or restoration has been carried out, noted the experts. And next to the factory’s symbol, the former power station, the company Baltic Commerce is erecting the nine-storey Mendelsohn Housing Complex.

“The residential building will be considerably taller than the ensemble’s historic centerpiece, violate its visual integrity, and reduce its value in terms of urban planning and the ensemble’s composition,” the specialists from ICOMOS argue.

They call on “responsible parties” to review the existing project, develop a concept for restoring and converting the entire factory complex, and prioritize the restoration and conservation of the factory’s buildings, as well as make the ensemble a federally listed landmark.

Currently, the building housing the factory’s former heating and power plant and several sections of the Red Banner Textile Factory are federally protected. The rest of the block can be redeveloped with buildings up to 33 meters tall. Deputy Governor Igor Albin visited the factory in August, following complaints by historical preservationists. He assured them construction of the residential building was being carried out lawfully.

Translated by the Russian Reader. The article, above, should be read as a serious follow-up to the warning bells I tried wanly to sound in “Leningrad Then, Petersburg Now,” published on August 16, 2016.

It’s a Done Deal, or, The Miracle of the Bridge That Builds Itself

done deal

Putin Calls Issue of Crimea’s Ownership Done Deal
Kirill Bulanov
September 3, 2016

The question of Crimea’s ownership is closed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.

“The people of Crimea made a decision and voted. Historically, it’s a done deal,” he stressed, as quoted by Interfax.

“There is no way of returning to the previous system. None,” added Putin.

Crimea joined Russia on the basis of a referendum [sic] that took place March 16, 2014. More than 95% of those who took part in the plebiscite voted for joining the peninsula to Russia. Ukrainian and western authorities called the move an “annexation,” and the US and European Union introduced sanctions against a number of Russian citizens and Russian companies.

The head of the government made a similar statement at the beginning of the year.

“This issue is closed forever. Crimea is part of Russian territory,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in February.

On September 1, the US extended its sanctions list against Russia. The new sanctions affect companies involved in building the Kerch Strait Bridge. In particular, the list now includes construction subcontractor Mostotrest and SGM Most. The list also included seventeen individuals, among them Crimean officials and security officials.

Crimean Bridge, published on YouTube by user Krymskii Most on October 2, 2015. The annotation to the video reads, “They made a video about me. Wow!”

The same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the west’s political position of not recognizing Crimea’s accession to Russia [sic].

“No legal obstacles to recognition of Crimea’s accession, its reunification with the Russian Federation, exist,” he said, speaking to students at MGIMO.


Meeting with students at MGIMO, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the main reasons the West had not accepted Crimea’s accession to Russia.

According to the minister, Europe and the US do not recognize Crimea as belonging to Russia solely for their own benefit and out of a desire to use the situation to their own political ends. Moreover, Ukraine and Kiev’s position on this issue have not interested the West for a long time.

“The West pursued this policy, a policy of containing Russia, long before the events in Ukraine,” said Lavrov.

The diplomat stressed it has long been recognized worldwide the peninsula’s reunification with Russia took place in full accordance with all the canons [sic] of the international world [sic], and in accordance with the wishes of the residents of Crimea themselves. Publicly, however, no one wants to confirm this.

Source: PolitEkspert, September 1, 2016

Translated by the Russian Reader. Inspirational message courtesy of