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How St. Petersburg is being taken apart

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St. Petersburg is often called a museum under the open skies. Architectural masterpieces, unique decor, sculptures in every backyard. But, at the same time, this museum is not only open for guests - for vandals as well.

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13-th lane of the Vasilievskiy Island, building number 32. In the beginning of May, its residents lost 5 sculptures of lions from the facade - at once. Where did they go? And why there’s fresh paint in their place? And why a brand new porch is being demolished next door? Renters have not received full authorization for their work - so the entrance to what will be a coffee shop was removed. While the lions were returned to their spots. Every single one

Ruslan Gasanov, coffee shop owner: “The entire lot was estimated at 150.000 rubles. Five of those. We removed one and a half, but had planned to restore all five. Its not an easy procedure, so we had to turn to designers and architects”

when are you expecting it to be done?
As we said before, 21 business days.

The businessman claims that restoration works on the statues had been planned even before those were removed. And that the lions are currently worked on at one of the workshops, expected to be returned on their spots by the end of May. But will the business owners keep their promise? We know the address and will come check up on it - to make another report.

do you see the holes from bolts? They somehow removed it, no idea how.

Marata street. Artist Dmitriy Shagin takes us to the crime scene. On May 9th, the Victory Day, a monument to the Blockade Cat was cynically taken off a steel scaffolding.

The sculpture was taken down right in front of CCTV camera. Nine young men, who came out of the cafe. One went to get the cat. And only the wires saved the cat.

Here’s the man who jumped of the electric box. He was named at the cafe. We asked him just one question - “did you take down the sculpture?”. The student, future Emergencies Ministry worker, had to defend himself: “i wanted to put a bracelet on the cat’s neck. Lost balance and got caught in the wires, so accidentally took it down. I tried to put it back, but couldn’t. I feel very much ashamed for this and have been trying to reach out to the sculpture’s author to apologize”.

Dmitriy Shagin says he will not go to the police. And will return the cat on its spot, attaching it tightly - so that it wont be taken off, accidentally or not. 

King’s Dacha in Zelenogorsk is a monument of regional significance and a unique wooden structure of the early 20th century. On May 3rd, vandals stole two statues at once - both by Italian sculptor Giovanni Benzoni. “Amour and Psychea” and “Kidnapping of Sabinians”

Maxim Oblender, reporter: “evidently, the statues were removed at night. Too many people at the beach in daytime. It all could’ve been taking place here - where the ladder is. And barbed wire is deformed here too. And we also see a warning plaque - “this property is protected by guard dogs”, although no actual dogs here. Only the wooden boxes where the stolen sculptures used to stand”. 

How can we find the sculptures and who could’ve stolen those? We directed these questions to private detectives. And joined them in climbing over the barbed wire. Turns out that no one prevented us from gettin in to examine the scene of the crime - at a supposedly guarded property.

Dmitriy Nikitin, private detective: “i would suggest flying up with a drone. Maybe those would be spotted at someone’s dacha. Nothing seems to be really guarded at this property.”

The criminals will not sell those sculptures online, according to the detectives - its too risky. And that would make finding the perps twice as hard. Not to mention, that finding the criminal does not mean bringing the work of art back to its place. Broken statue of Mephistophilis is still covered by cloth at Lakhtinskaya street, even though the perp was found. Decapitated Dionis still stands at Bolshaya Pushkarskaya, even though the vandal himslef brought the head to a police station. Disfigured mermaids are still waiting for a restoration at Sadovaya. Ad websites are offering to buy historic relics. The list of items lost from the museum under open skies.
 

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