At the beginning of November 2022, the Airport building, a historical and cultural monument of local importance, was destroyed. This act was committed despite the protests of specialists, the public and the resolution of the Akimat of the city of Almaty dated November 11, 2020 Number 4/492.
In connection with a clear violation of the law “On the protection and use of objects of historical and cultural heritage,” the Ecological Society “Green Salvation” sent a request to the Department of Culture of the city of Almaty. The Ecological Society inquired about the implementation of the resolution of the Akimat of the city of Almaty dated November 11, 2020 Number 4/492 “On the movement of the historical and cultural monument of local importance Airport (Airport of International Lines).” Paragraph 2 of the resolution states: “To the communal state institution “Department of Culture of the City of Almaty” (hereafter— Department):
1) when transferring, ensure the integrity and safety of the monument;
2) take other measures arising from this resolution.”
On December 29, 2022, the Department replied that, in accordance with Article 29 of the Law “On the Protection and Use of Historical and Cultural Heritage Objects,” the movement of the monument “is allowed if its movement and change will lead to an improvement in the conditions for its preservation.” The full text of paragraph 2, to which the Department refers, is somewhat different: “Movement and alteration of a monument of history and culture is prohibited.
An exception is allowed only in cases of destruction of more than seventy percent of a monument of history and culture or loss of historical and cultural significance, or if its movement and change will lead to an improvement in the conditions for its preservation.”
First, there is no confirmation in the Department’s response that the monument was destroyed by seventy percent. Secondly, the Office recognized that the monument has not lost its historical and cultural significance. The building is still listed in the current State list of local historical and cultural monuments of the city of Almaty at Number 65. The list was approved by the resolution of the Akimat of the city of Almaty dated March 17, 2021 Number 1/191. Thirdly, subparagraph 3 of paragraph 2 of Article 29 states: “Individuals and legal entities that have received a decision, when moving and changing a monument of history and culture, are obliged to ensure the conditions for its preservation.”
Further, in the answer we read, “The building will be recreated and will retain the original appearance of the following decorative elements.”
4) recreation—a set of measures to restore the lost monument of history and culture in the presence of sufficient scientific data and special historical, scientific, artistic or other cultural value of the monument of history and culture.”
Does this mean that the Department admitted that the monument was “lost” through the efforts of the Akimat and others like it? Alternatively, to call a spade a spade, simply liquidated, demolished like a pile of garbage. How to understand the words “the building will retain its original appearance?” At best, a new building will be an exact copy of the old one, but no more.
On April 4, 2023, having not received clear answers to the questions asked, and in connection with an obvious violation of the law “On the protection and use of objects of historical and cultural heritage,” we turned to the Prosecutor’s Office of the city of Almaty (Number 023). Guided by articles 10, 23 of the Constitutional Law “On the Prosecutor’s Office,” the organization asked to initiate criminal proceedings against the guilty persons under part 1 of article 203 and part 1 of article 371 of the Criminal Code for the deliberate destruction of historical and cultural monuments and negligence.
The city prosecutor’s office forwarded the letter to the city Police department. Department— in the Police Department of the Turksib region. The Police Department of the Turksib region apparently transferred the letter to the Linear Police Department at the airport in Almaty. The Linear Department sent our appeal to the Department of Culture, which becomes obvious from the answer of the latter. The circle is closed. Having received no answers, on July 20, 2023 (Number 041) we again sent a letter to the Police Department of the Turksib region.
On July 21, the day after sending another request, the Ecological Society received a long-awaited answer. But not from the Prosecutor’s Office, not from the Police Department, but from the Department of Culture (Number 03.4-12/48982sl). A copy of the response was sent to the Linear Police Department at the airport in Almaty.
In the letter, the Department of Culture reassures Almaty residents that “in accordance with Article 29 of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the Protection and Use of Historical and Cultural Heritage Objects,” the movement of a monument is allowed if its movement and change will improve the conditions for its preservation. But, as mentioned above, the text of the law differs significantly from the interpretation given to it by the Department of Culture. Almaty residents are well aware that the building was demolished at the end of last year. Numerous photographs published in the media and social networks confirm this. Our photo archive contains files depicting the barbaric destruction of a cultural monument in front of the citizens and guests of the capital.
Most of all, in the response of the Department of Culture, the phrase “the monument with all the decorative elements will be moved within a radius of 420 meters on the territory of the Airport!” surprised. Does the Department know that the building has already been moved? The new-old “structure” stands on Akhmetov Street and is clearly visible on satellite images.
Apparently, without thinking twice, the Department somewhat edited the version of the letter dated December 29, 2022, but forgot to change the time from the future to the present. For the public, this is enough. In addition to the well-known facts in the answer, we did not find a single convincing document confirming and explaining how the Airport building was moved. No blueprints, no photographs, no link to an approved project, no budget (and it is not cheap), no information about who is funding it, no timetable.
Neither give nor take a letter from the past.
Except fraud—no miracles
The letter of the Department of Culture, in accordance with the Environmental Code and the Aarhus Convention, can be qualified as false and incomplete information! Therefore, we decided to find out why the Department keeps talking about relocation.
The fact is that the phrase from the above-mentioned letter from the Department of Culture should be taken literally. “The building will be recreated and will retain the original appearance of the following decorative elements: stained-glass filling of window openings, decorative relief-ornamented panels on the side facades, a multi-profile cornice with a relief-ornamented cornice along perimeter, three-quarter ornamented columns of the national order at the corners of the pylons, stained-glass window of the arched opening, a tower (belvedere) with a spire, an openwork parapet along the entire perimeter of the roof.” This means that only the original decorative elements will be transferred. Although this statement is now in doubt. Everything else has already been destroyed. In February 2023, president of Almaty International Airport said that the historic building that previously housed the VIP terminal was “now being moved piecemeal and its twin is being assembled.” It is well known that the twin is not the original.
How to understand the paragraph of the Akimat’s resolution “when transferring, ensure the integrity and safety of the monument?” A monument, not just decorative elements! Or is the law not written for an investor, and the decision of the Akimat is an empty phrase?
Although from the point of view of the investor, such a move-demolition is legal. After all, neither the Akimat, nor the branch of the Republican State Enterprise “Kazrestavratsiya,” nor the Ministry of Culture and Sports prevented the destruction of the monument. If local officials allow breaking the law, then the investor washes his hands.
Moreover, it is beneficial for him. “The transfer of a historical object to a certain distance is a complex, multi-stage process that requires a thorough study of a large number of factors, the development of a working draft and careful preparation. At the beginning, a conclusion is made on the ability of the structures to withstand the transfer, and on additional temporary measures to strengthen the building. … Where the preservation of the structural integrity of the facility remains an important step.” It must be taken into account that it is first necessary to carry out a vertical lifting of the object. These technologies involve “liquidation of the consequences of building deepening; increase in the dimensions of the basement floor and the development of the underground space of the building; strengthening or replacing foundations; elimination of deformations as a result of long-term operation of structures; complex replacement of communications.” If all this is included in the costs, then it becomes clear that removing decorative elements, and then demolishing the old one and building a new object will cost much less than moving it. By the way, maybe someone will tell us if any historical buildings were moved in Kazakhstan.
However, the destruction of historical monuments in Kazakhstan has become a common practice. In the Almaty region, officials managed to demolish almost half of the world heritage site – the settlement of Talgar.
Movement = demolition = corruption?
The Phoenix bird was reborn from its own ashes, but in this case, there was no ashes left of the Airport, not even debris! The builders have surpassed the capabilities of the mythical bird. They resurrected, returned the building from non-existence!
The technology secret is simple. The airport building is state property. It can be moved, demolished, “sent” to non-existence and returned back. So there can be no question of any criminal offense. Honor and praise to those who know how to “resurrect” historical monuments! But God forbid to touch the abandoned private construction sites and ruins, landfills and wastelands that have been “decorating” the city for decades!
What do we have as a result? Countless calls for the development of tourism, the improvement of its infrastructure. What can we show tourists? National parks with their poor tourist service; dilapidated World Heritage sites in disrepair; cheap architectural forgeries?
The main question remains unanswered: movement/moving = demolition = corruption? Maybe we are wrong.
© Ecological Society “Green Salvation,” 2023.
 The letter was sent twice: on November 20 and December 28, 2022. The answer was received only on February 2, 2023, after the intervention of the Bostandyk district prosecutor’s office, which reminded the Department of Culture that it was uncivilized not to respond to the letter.
 The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated December 26, 2019 No. 288-VI “On the protection and use of objects of historical and cultural heritage” (as amended on May 1, 2023) does not contain the term “transfer/transferring” (перенос). There is the term “movement/moving” (перемещение) (Article 29). But does such a trifle matter to the Akimat?
 Response of the Department of Culture of the city of Almaty dated December 29, 2022 (No. 08.4-05 / zt-k-2013) to the letter of the Ecological Society “Green Salvation” dated November 28, 2022 (No. 88, 89).
 Resolution of the Akimat of the city of Almaty dated March 17, 2021 Number 1/191 “On approval of the State list of historical and cultural monuments of local importance of the city of Almaty” (as amended on 09.09.2021): https://adilet.zan.kz/rus/docs/V21R0001693#z3.
 Constitutional Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated November 5, 2022 Number 155-VII “On the Prosecutor’s Office” (as amended on July 24, 2023).
 The Akimat of the city also did not respond to our request on whether or not it controlled the implementation of its own resolution “On the movement of the historical and cultural monument of local importance Airport (International Airport).”
 Visit of representatives of the World Heritage Center and ICOMOS to Talgar village: http://esgrs.org/?p=13924. Talgar is a World Heritage Site. Garbage, desolation, devastation: http://esgrs.org/?p=16650.