City Orders Removal of Outdoor Ads

MTWorkers removing advertisements on Ulitsa Plyushchikha, in a quiet part of the historic city center, on Tuesday.
City Hall on Tuesday issued a decree ordering all outdoor advertising near the Kremlin, the Novodevichy Monastery and the Kolomenskoye Estate to be removed by the end of next year in an effort to preserve the city's historical appearance.

City officials said residents largely backed the initiative, though some advertisers said it could negatively impact their business.

The city will begin removing outdoor advertisements in the city center Thursday morning, city officials said.

"Advertisements that block the view of historical monuments must be removed," Mayor Yury Luzhkov said at Tuesday's City Hall meeting.

Commercial signs located within the three historic quarters, however, will be allowed at bus stops and phone booths, on benches and roadside barriers, and in public restrooms, Luzhkov said.

"This is quite acceptable and normal and, by the way, it decorates the city," Luzhkov said.

Advertisers kicked out of the districts will be compensated with advertising space in other parts of the city, said Vladimir Makarov, head of City Hall's advertising and information committee.

"Outdoor advertising is the only type of advertising that small and medium-size businesses can afford, and we must not impede their development," Makarov, who presented the decree, said after the meeting.

Commercial signs measuring less than 10 square meters may be allowed within the three districts, Makarov added.

The city will lose 100 million rubles ($4.26 million) in advertising revenue as a result of the decree, a sum Makarov described as "insignificant" given the city's budget of 1 trillion rubles ($42.6 billion).

All outdoor advertising will be cleared from the UNESCO-protected surroundings of the Kremlin, the Novodevichy Monastery and the Kolomenskoye Estate, by January, June and December of next year, respectively, according to the decree.

The amount of signage near the Boulevard Ring, the Garden Ring and other "separate historical objects" will also be reduced, Makarov said, though he gave no time frame.

In Kremlin's surrounding areas, streets like Mokhovaya Ulitsa, Nikolskaya Ulitsa, Ulitsa Znamenka, Ulitsa Varvarka and Ulitsa Ilyinka will be some of the first to be cleared of commercial signs, Makarov said.

The removal of advertisements near Tverskaya Ulitsa, Chistoprudny Bulvar and Ulitsa Plushchikha was scheduled to begin Tuesday or Wednesday night, said Anatoly Smirnov, deputy head of state unitary enterprise City Advertisement and Information, which is responsible for tearing down the signs in line with the City Hall decree.

BMW Group Russia, which advertises on a giant billboard located near the site of the demolished Rossiya hotel, near the Kremlin, said the decree would hinder its ability to target consumers.

"This will limit our communication with our target customers, who either live or work in the city center," company spokeswoman Ksenia Klimushkina said.

News Outdoor, the country's largest outdoor advertising firm, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday in time for publication.