Billboards banished from Red Square

Moscow plans to ban billboards from the Kremlin, Red Square and other historical sites in the capital. The prohibition would cut much-needed advertising revenues, but authorities say good looks are worth the price.

Moscow's Kremlin and Red Square are the city's undoubted landmarks. More than 600 year old, this protected area was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1990.

But city chiefs are trying to give a new meaning to the word ‘protected’. The City says that in 2008 and 2009 the area around the Kremlin as well as two other historic sites in the centre of the capital will be ad-free.

The move will deprive Moscow city of millions of roubles.

“The interests of advertisers are important to us. But the interests of Muscovites are our number one priority. We want the residents to feel comfortable in their city,” said Aleksandr Menchuk from the City Advertising Committee.

The other concern about the number of ads is that drivers are not giving the road their full attention.

Moscow is not unique in its anti-ad plans. In the UK and in several U.S. states the ban on billboards in rural areas and along the roads is backed by law. And in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo the mayor – in a crackdown on so-called ‘visual pollution’ – outlawed all forms of outdoor advertising.

But some people say huge billboards are part of the landscape of big cities.

“We are in Moscow. It’s like New York or Tokyo. And I think the adverts should have their place on the streets of such a metropolis,” Matthias Aicher said, a Moscow resident for more than three years.