Fight for Hostynnyi Dvir: Would Kyiv build shopping mall on this spot?

Author : Mykhailo Pozhyvanov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Podil, Kyiv's central area, might lose its monument to the architecture and urban development, erected in 1809
15:30, 17 April 2018

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Volodymyr Bondar

Hostynnyi Dvir is a trade complex built in Kyiv, at the time part of the Russian Empire, back in 1809 by Luigi Rusca. The complex replaced its older predecessor, erected in the 1760s by Ivan Hryhorovych-Barskyi. After the great 1811 fire, it was reconstructed under the supervision of architect Andrey Melensky.

This long-lasting story would not have happened at all if the Kyiv authorities had taken care of monuments and memorable places on time. However, the current government nods to the Soviet times. They say, back in 1982, Hostynnyi Dvir, situated in Podil district of Kyiv, was rebuilt so clumsily that in 2011, this gave grounds to exclude the building from the register of architectural monuments that are under state protection. But what happened 40 years ago cannot be an excuse for the current outrageous situation. And the situation is that the building never whipped to shape, slowly collapses.

All Kyiv residents remember the chronology of the struggle for Hostynnyi Dvir. The excesses began in 2012 when the city council turned Hostynnyi Dvir into a lease for PJSC "Ukrrestoration" for the reconstruction of the building for the trade and office center. We know that at the same time, violent protests began against the change in the profile of the Gostiny Dvor, which resulted in the emergence of the "Hostynna Respublika" public initiative, within the framework of which concerts, lectures, meetings, and other public events were held. This continued until during the night of 8 to 9 February 2013 there was a large-scale fire on the roof and attic of the building. Ten days later, on February 18, during the next bout between activists and representatives of the builder, Berkut system of special police dispersed the protesters and detained some activists. Events were paused right up to the victory of the Revolution of Dignity.

Related: Kyiv's ancient trade complex: Hostynnyi Dvir

In April 2014, Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal revoked the permission to reconstruct Hostynnyi Dvir. Also, the decision to allocate land for Hostynnyi Dvir was canceled. In 2015, the building was restored as a monument. A happy ending? Not that fast. It was not at that easy to get Dvir from the tenacious hands of PJSC "Ukrrestoration". The company plans to file a cassation appeal with the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Director of "Ukrrestoration" Dmytro Yarych said that his enterprise has already invested 4,6 million USD in Hostynnyi Dvir. So wants to get his investments back. For the sake of investment protection, “Ukrrestoration” is ready to go back to court and even to the European Court of Human Rights (if its interests cannot be defended in Ukraine).

Related: Archeologists dig up antique architectural structure in Mykolaiv

What does the persistent developer plan to build on the site of present Hostynnyi Dvir? "A modern building, which would be used for its original historical purpose - for trade. According to the documents our project was a trade and office center, but the offices had to occupy less than 5% of the area, which is less than even technical premises. If all those activists did not interrupt into the construction, we would have completed the reconstruction project four years ago," Yarych says.

Yarych does not hide that the main investor of “Ukrrestoration” is the Cyprian company Afirdreko Holdings Limited. Back in 2012, the program of investigative journalism "Nashi Groshi" reported that "Afirdreko Holdings Limited" is a Cypriot offshore with very “interesting” business relations. Yarych, former lawyer of "Zoryany" cinema hall was also mentioned in the program.

Shortly before the publication of the investigation, Yarych began to manage "Ukrrestoration", and the supervisory board of the company was headed by another employee of the “staff nest” of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions - Hennady Nezhurbida. Before 2010, "Zoryany" was headed by Andriy Kravets, who later began to lead the notorious State Department of Affairs, or in other words, he became Yanukovych’s bursar. "Nashi Groshi" program particularly emphasized the closeness of the new leaders of "Ukrrestoration" and State Department of Affairs.

Before Euro-2012, "Ukrrestoration" signed a contract with Kyiv City Administration on the repair of the facades of the houses of St. Andrew's descent. The city administration was ready to allocate 3,75 million USD for such repairs at the time. At the same time, however, there was no list of specific objects subject to restoration, and a distinct amount of work done within the framework of the latter. Reporters asked the reasonable question: what if they just lute the holes and cracks instead of the expected full restoration, and just get that 3,75 million USD without any responsibility?

Related: Fire on Kyiv’s Khreschatyk

As far as I know, no one has investigated a scam with 3,75 million USD, no one has checked the money spent from the city treasury with the exterior of the houses. Why no one does it today? Probably, this question should be addressed to the prosecutor's office, not to the mayor's office. But the city authorities have numerous questions.

After passing the appellate instance, the court's decisions come into force. The plaintiff might appeal to the European Court, but the verdict of the Court of Appeal must in the meantime be enforced. This means that Hostynnyi Dvir is no longer under the protectorate of "Ukrrestoration", it again belongs to the city, and the city is responsible for its safety. What is being done by the mayor's office at the moment to save the collapsing monument?

Related: Poshtova Square archeological sensation: Business vs. historical heritage

This question concerns the Kontraktova Square as a whole. As a Kyiv inhabitant, it is extremely important for me to know what will happen next with this landmark place. What is the fate of the excavations there? Will they build that promised museum? Will the area be strengthened with slabs to avoid collapse and tragedy? Mayor Klitschko willingly assures the journalists that he supports all the positive initiatives in this respect, that is, the museum, the excavations, and further scientific research. But how much does this correspond to reality?

Incidentally, it has also been heard that the threads from the above-mentioned offshore Afidreko Holdings Limited lead to the friend of the former president of Ukraine and the head of his administration, Serhiy Liovochkin, which means that the builder can have very useful connections and unexpected patrons. Including in the judicial and bureaucratic circles. After all, the change of power in 2014 did not have a strong impact on some political "friendships". Will the mayor's office under the aegis of Klitschko defend those useful for the city decisions? Or does personal gain, as often happens, outweigh the common one?..

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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