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Cost to Repair Burned Tower in Russia Put at $40 Million

Damage: Nation's top construction official says work on Moscow's giant TV transmitter will not be completed for at least a year.

September 06, 2000|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — Repairing the landmark Moscow television tower damaged in a fire last week will cost at least $40 million and take at least a year to complete, Russia's top construction official said Tuesday.

Top priorities will be repairing elevators and the steel cables that support the 1,772-foot Ostankino television tower, Anvar Shamuzafarov, chairman of the Russian State Construction Committee, told a news conference.

It was unclear how much money the government will contribute to the repairs. Russian media reports say the government has already spent most of the funds earmarked in this year's budget for the aftermath of emergencies.

Despite the damage, Shamuzafarov insisted that the structure is stable.

"The Ostankino tower is a work of genius and will reach the same age as the Pyramids of Egypt," he said in remarks carried on Russian television.

The 26-hour fire broke out Aug. 27 high on the tower--a key feature in Moscow's skyline--and spread downward, knocking out almost all TV service to the Moscow region's 15 million people for three days.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for rebel Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov claimed responsibility for the fire.

"The fire was a very successful action that our special units carried out," Information Minister Akhmed Sakayev told Germany's Deutsche Welle radio.

He told the Berlin-based station's Russian-language service that the tower was selected as a target because "that's where all the anti-Chechen propaganda was broadcast from" to Russia and the world.

However, Russian authorities said the blaze is believed to have been sparked by a short circuit. And Russia's Federal Security Service said that Chechen terrorism was not considered a possible cause of the blaze.

Russian troops have been battling in Chechnya for nearly a year to suppress the republic's separatist government after being driven out at the end of a 1994-96 war. The Russian military controls large areas of Chechnya but appears to be far from defeating the rebels.

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