Russia to move navy HQ to St Petersburg-paper

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MOSCOW, Oct 31 (Reuters) Russia is moving its naval headquarters to St Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin's hometown, in a fresh effort to revive the political importance of the old imperial capital, a Moscow daily said today.

Earlier this month, Russia's parliamentary speaker Boris Gryzlov suggested that the navy should be returned to the Admiralty building in central St Petersburg, its headquarters until the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

The Defence Ministry had ordered the navy to draft a plan for the relocation, which is expected to start in April 2008, reported Kommersant, quoting its source.

''The orders came from the very top,'' the source told the paper in a clear reference to the Kremlin. ''The government was ordered to allocate money.'' Defence Ministry and navy press offices could not be immediately contacted for comment.

St Petersburg, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as Russia's new capital, lost its status in 1918 when the Soviet government moved back to Moscow.

Putin, who has promoted many St Petersburg natives to top government posts, has done much to revive the importance of the city.

Many important international events, including the summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations last year, were held in St Petersburg.

Under new legislation, the Constitutional Court will move there from Moscow and a series of similar proposals, including the relocation of parliament, have been floated in the media by senior parliamentarians and government officials.

Kommersant said the relocation of the navy headquarters could cost at least 15 billion roubles (607.5 million dollars).

REUTERS ARB KN1434

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