CULTURE MINISTER SUGGESTS COMPILING A LIST OF CULTURAL HERITAGE TO BE PRIVATIZED

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MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - Minister of Culture Alexander Sokolov suggests compiling a clear-cut list of cultural heritage that can be privatized. He voiced the idea at the cabinet session today.

According to Sokolov, there should be two lists: one of the cultural heritage that can be privatized, and the other of heritage that cannot be privatized. The latter should include certain research and technical facilities enumerated by the Ministry of Culture, as well as sites of architectural heritage, graves and centers of historic settlements.

The minister also said that two forms of using privatized sites were being considered: with the immediate transfer of the right of ownership if the situation at the site is satisfactory, and with the delayed transfer of this right if the site is in an emergency situation.

Sokolov stressed that when making decisions on possible privatization of cultural heritage, the priority consideration should be the ability of the new owner to ensure the safety of the monument. He spoke in favor of transferring the responsibility for the protection of monuments to the regions.

"We should transfer, delegate these powers to the regions without losing control or closing the state's watchful eye," said the minister. He said that the transfer of federal powers to protect cultural monuments to the regions would proceed without subvention. The minister also called for creating a single effective system of state protection of cultural heritage.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov reminded the cabinet members that the federal law on cultural heritage was adopted more than two years ago and but the requisite normative acts necessary for its implementation had not been approved to this day. "We have to protect monuments in accordance with the rules established more than 20 years ago," said the premier.

The issue of the delimitation of the right of ownership of cultural monuments has not been settled yet, and theregistration of the rights of ownership of federal monuments has been halted until the solution of this problem.

"The issue is particularly acute in Moscow and St Petersburg, which have the bilk of monuments of federal significance," said Fradkov. "Other regions are also waiting for the solution of this problem."

Fradkov called for solving these problems on the basis of public consensus. "This issue exceeds the boundaries of a purely legal formality. [Cultural heritage] belongs to the people." According to Fradkov, the state should assume responsibility for cultural heritage at all levels of government, and this above all concerns budgetary appropriations, said the head of government.

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