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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Expat Favorite Regains Protected Status

MTAn external view from Leontyevsky Pereulok of the 18th- and 19th-century complex that houses Stanislavskogo 2.
In a rare success for preservation activists, an 18th-and 19th-century complex in the center of Moscow looks to be safe following a long campaign against its destruction.

Two buildings on Bolshaya Nikitskaya had their protected status restored Wednesday by the Moscow city government's preservation committee.

The move comes after a series of court cases and sustained campaigning by the owners of Stanislavskogo 2, one of the first private restaurants to appear in Moscow after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The family-run restaurant, located on the ground floor of Bolshaya Nikitskaya 26 is a favorite with foreigners, and even former President Boris Yeltsin once ate there.

The three buildings on Bolshaya Nikitskaya once comprised the city mansion of Prince Nikolai Yusupov, who more famously owned the Arkhangelskoye Estate. It was later the home for actors from a famous 19th-century theatre.

Despite the site's rich history, it was taken off the protection list by the city in 2005 and the building was declared uninhabitable and hazardous.

Plans were drawn up for one of the buildings to be knocked down and converted into luxury flats by realty developers NEO. There were fears that reconstruction work would also irrevocably damage the other buildings.

The Moscow Preservation Committee ruled Wednesday at a hearing that the buildings should go back on the protected list. Two members of the committee at the hearing said the status of the building should not be up for discussion, but they were overruled by acting head of the committee Alexander Filayev.

Emily Souptel, who runs Stanislavskogo 2 with her mother, Rosalie Korodzievskaya, was delighted with the result of the hearing.

"I am looking forward to focusing on the restaurant, changing the menu, tweaking the interior and concentrating on the customers. I feel like I have been signing paperwork and talking to lawyers forever," Souptel said after the hearing.

Korodzievskaya has cooked homemade dishes in the neatly tiled kitchen for 20 of the 38 years she has lived there. She planted trees and installed a red and yellow playground for local children in the 200-year-old courtyard.

Souptel grew up in a communal flat in the adjoining building.

"It's quite funny, there was a boy that lived in this flat who would always push me off my bike when I was little; now we are running a restaurant from his apartment," Souptel said.

Having lived and worked in the building for so long, the pair, unlike other tenants who left, decided to fight to save their home.

In 2005, NEO tried to sue Souptel and Korodzievskaya, saying that their ownership documents were invalid. The pair has won four cases against the developers so far. NEO could not be reached for comment Monday.

"I think it's great that the building will be put back on the list," said Clementine Cecil, co-founder of the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society. "It's a tribute to the dedication and stamina of these women to protect their property."

Souptel is happy that her building is now protected but nevertheless remains cautious about the future.

"It's Moscow. Unfortunately, at the right price, the building's status can change again," she said.