The Shukhov Radio and Television Tower, a more than 90-year old Soviet structure that has long since fallen in to a state of desperate disrepair, is likely to be dismantled.
Talk of dismantling the tower has been fiercely opposed by the Culture Ministry and Vladimir Shukhov, the great-grandson of the engineer who designed the structure and president of the Shukhov Tower Foundation, which advocates its preservation at any cost.
"The Shukhov Tower is a unique monument of world architecture, scientific and technical solutions" he said, Itar-Tass reported. Shukov added that the tower that bears his name, built in the 1920s, also acts as a symbol of national unity.
However, the Communications and Press Ministry said that if the tower is not immediately dismantled, there is a serious risk that the 148-meter structure will collapse, thereby preventing any hope of preservation. At the end of December 2013, Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said that work could begin this year, Izvestia reported.
"The only possible option for a solution to the problem is a two stage reconstruction and renovation of the radio tower, which stipulates in the first stage its dismantling for the conservation and preservation of elements for later restoration," the ministry said.
Officials are concerned because the tower is located in a bustling part of southern Moscow, including six apartment blocs in the immediate area.
A document obtained by Izvestia estimates the cost of dismantling the tower at 119 million rubles ($3.42 million).A previous push to restore the tower had been allocated 135 million rubles in federal funds in 2010, though the work never began after it was decided that normal construction equipment would not work for the project and the estimated cost jumped by more than 200 million rubles.