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Moscow museum opens after 11 years of renovation

September 9, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia’s State Historical Museum, a dark red castle-like structure flanking Red Square, opened late and incomplete Tuesday, even after 11 years of renovation.

In a ceremony also attended by the culture minister, city officials and Russian Orthodox Church leaders, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin promised that the government would find the money to complete the renovation in the ``near future.″

The 125-year-old museum was closed for general renovation in 1986. The project dragged on for lack of money until Chernomyrdin ordered the government this year to resume payments.

``I cannot say the decision was an easy one, especially taking into account the difficult situation with the federal budget,″ the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

Museum director Alexander Shkurko had announced last month that the museum would reopen in time for Moscow’s 850th anniversary celebrations, held last weekend.

But with only 13 of 40-odd exhibition halls open, it illustrated the differences between the cash-strapped federal government and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s administration, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on frenetic construction and cleanup work to remake the capital in time for the celebrations.

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