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Kemerovo jumps the gun on demolishing the shopping center where a fire killed 60 people in March


Investigators halted the demolition of the “Winter Cherry” shopping center in Kemerovo, where a fire claimed the lives of 60 people in March. Police say the building is still material evidence in their investigation, despite instructions from the region’s acting governor to begin tearing down the mall’s burned wreckage.

Dmitry Malinin, a lawyer representing the mall’s owners, told the newspaper Kommersant that he will appeal to the police and the district attorney’s office to find out why the demolition work started on May 15. The Winter Cherry’s owners don’t intend to give the premises to the city for free, Malinin added, and they’re still negotiating a reasonable price.

The Kemerovo governor’s office previously claimed that the shopping center’s primary owner, a local confectionery works, had donated the mall to the city, after buying out the minority shareholders that objected to the demolition. Local officials say they plan to open a public square on the grounds by September 1.