MOSCOW, June 14 - RAPSI, Yelena Bychkova. On Thursday, the Tenth Commercial Court of Appeals upheld the ruling on the unlawfulness of an auction on the sale of a land plot which is part of the Arkhangelskoye Estate Museum, the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/

The court dismissed appeals by the Defense Ministry and Gradostroy, the auction's winner, against the court decision.

In March, the Moscow Region Commercial Court upheld the museum's lawsuit and invalidated the auction on the sale of a land plot, as well as a contract between the Defense Ministry and Gradostroy.

The court found that part of the land is considered a cultural heritage area and therefore the land plot cannot be privatized.

On August 16, Gradostroy won the ministry's auction of 20.67 hectares near the museum for 754.493 million rubles ($23.21 million). Pursuant to the tender documents, the land plot had a number of encumbrances.

The museum management believes that the ministry was not entitled to auction the land, as most of the area (12 hectares) falls within the museum's preservation zone, while a smaller area (0.78 hectares) is the estate's actual territory. Therefore, the State Property Management Committee -- and not the ministry -- should have had the right to dispose of the land, the plaintiff said.

The ministry's lawyer in turn referred to an agreement signed by the museum and the military sanatorium adjacent to the estate in 1996. The disputed land plot was not part of the areas of joint use stipulated in the agreement, the lawyer said.

The estate is a historical palace and park established in the late 18th century near Moscow. Renowned collector and art lover Prince Nikolay Yusupov bought Arkhangelskoye in 1810.