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Wednesday, 18 November 2015
On This Day: Metropolitan Tikhon Elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Topic: Russian Church

On 9 October, 1989 Tikhon (Belavin) was canonized during the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
Note: this article has been edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 17 November (O.S. 4 November), 1917, in full swing of revolution, the Local Council of Russian Orthodox Church approved the decree on re-establishing of patriarchate, abolished in 1721 due to the adoption of the synodal control system in Russian Orthodox Church.

The next day, on 18 November (O.S. 5 November) 1917, in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow the elections of the patriarch were held. The blind old man Alexei Zosimovsky drew lots from three candidates determined by the Council voting (metropolitan of Kharkov - Antony (Khrapovitsky), of Novgorod - Arseny (Stadnitsky) and of Moscow – Tikhon (Belavin)). The new head of the church became the president of the Council metropolitan of Moscow Tikhon. The enthronement took place on 4 December (O.S. 21 November) on the day of Presentation of the Holy Virgin in the Temple in Assumption cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.

The reestablishment of the patriarchate occurred in the moment when the country’s rule was in the hands of the political party that was negatively set against the religious institutions. From its side the church was expressing its rejection of the forcible change of political system in the country. That is why the relationship between the new state power and the primate of Russian Orthodox Church were from the very beginning of conflict character.

On 1 February (O.S. 19 January) 1918 the patriarch addressed his flock pronouncing the anathema to the godless rule. It meant that the orthodox population of the country could not acknowledge the Soviet rule legally sound.

As soon as the next day the Soviet of the Peoples’ Commissars approved and published on 5 February (O.S. 23 January) the decree “On separation of the church from the state, and the school from the church”. The decree deprived the church of all its properties and limited its influence on all the fields of social life.

“When Patriarch Tikhon learned of the vengeful execution of the Royal Family in 1918, he commanded that Panikhidas (requiems) be served for Nicolas II as the slain Tsar—regardless of the fact that he abdicated the throne; regardless of the fact that under the Bolshevik terror this was dangerous for the Patriarch himself; regardless, finally, of the fact that ironically, it was the Tsarist government that had for 200 years prevented the restoration of the Patriarchy in general, and would have prevented his becoming Patriarch in particular.”

- Georgiy Velikanov
As the civil war was progressing, the conflict between the church and the Soviet developed. More than once the patriarch was put under house arrest and in May of 1922 an action was brought against him in order to institute criminal proceedings. After the patriarch had written a statement on his repentance for “anti-Soviet deeds”, on 21 March, 1924 the Supreme Court of the RSFSR closed his case.

On 7 April, 1925, on Annunciation Day, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Tikhon died at the age of 60. The permission to elect the next patriarch was given only during the Great Patriotic War, on 8 September, 1943.

On 9 October, 1989 Tikhon (Belavin) was canonized during the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. The relics of the prelate are kept in the great cathedral of Donskoy Monastery.

© Presidential Library / Edited & Amended by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 November, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:51 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 18 November 2015 11:57 AM EST
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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
On This Day: The Resurrection of Christ the Saviour Cathedral (Smolny Cathedral) was Founded
Topic: Russian Church

The Resurrection of Christ the Saviour Cathedral (Smolny Cathedral), St. Petersburg 
On 10 November  (O.S. 30 October) 1748 in St. Petersburg to the design of the architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was founded the Resurrection of the Christ the Saviour (Smolny) Cathedral of the Novodevichiy Convent.

Having ascended the throne the Empress Elizabeth of Russia (Elizaveta Petrovna) “… in order to provide a peaceful shelter for orphan young girls, who wanted to spend life in seclusion and piety… expressed a will to turn the refuge of her first youth [“Smolny House”] into a convent”.

Construction of the convent ensemble was assigned to an outstanding Russian architect of Italian origin Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Preparatory works were launched in 1744 and four years later, on 10 November (O.S. 30 October) 1748 was laid the cathedral’s foundation stone. Under the Highest Order the Archbishop Simon conducted a service in the Church of the Horse Guards Regiment, went around the Smolny Palace with a cross procession, in the presence of the Empress laid a foundation stone of the new convent, which was given the name of Voskresensky after the Resurrection of the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The convent’s ensemble is a cross-shaped square, formed by the buildings of monastic cells and a widows’ house, with a cathedral as its centerpiece. Built on the site of the Smolyanoy Dvor (taryard), the convent was called Smolny, though officially it was known as Voskresensky Novodevichiy Convent.

By 1761 the cathedral had been almost completed, however as the Seven Years’ War broke out the construction works slowed down, while after the death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia they came to nought.

During the reign of Empress Catherine II convent’s buildings with cells were used to accommodate the Educational Society of Noble Maidens (Smolny Institute), which later moved to another building.

In the late 1820s following the instructions of Emperor Nicholas I were mounted works targeted at completion of the cathedral, which were only finished in 1832s-1835s under the direction of the architect Vasiliy Petrovich Stasov.

On 1 August (O.S. 20 July) 1835 the convent was consecrated in the presence of the Emperor Nicholas I, members of his family and top officials. By the imperial order during the consecration the cathedral was called the Cathedral of All Educational Institutions in commemoration of the Empress Maria Feodorovna, widow of Emperor Paul I, who used to donate large sums of money to the public education.

After the 1917 revolution most valuable church belongings were confiscated, the cathedral itself was turned into as a warehouse.

In 1974 the cathedral housed the branch of the Museum of Leningrad History, and from 1990 here has been operating a concert and exhibition hall “Smolny Cathedral”.

Today in the Smolny Cathedral you can listen to religious, classical and modern music, enjoy the performance of well-known Russian and foreign musicians, or take part in photo and art exhibitions. Here take place contests and intellectual games for pupils. Along with the eventful concert, exhibition and educational activities, in summer the cathedral always undertakes restoration and modernization works.
On April 7th, 2010, for the first time in 90 years, a divine liturgy was celebrated in the cathedral. In April 2013, the Russian media reported that the Smolny Cathedral would be returned to the Russian Orthodox Church - PG. 

© Presidential Library / Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 November, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:49 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2015 8:01 AM EST
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Tuesday, 22 September 2015
On This Day: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Founded in Moscow
Topic: Russian Church

Stunning nightime view of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour set against the backdrop of snow covered Moscow
On September 22 (O.S. September 10), 1839 the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was solemnly founded by the Metropolitan of Moscow Filaret on the Alexeevsky hill in Moscow to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Patriotic War and storming of Paris in March of 1814.

The idea to build the cathedral in order to mark the rescue of the Motherland appeared already in 1812. Originally the magnificent building was planned to be built by the design of the architect A. L. Vitberg, but in 1832 the new project prepared by the architect K.A. Thon was approved instead. The place for the erection was chosen by the Emperor Nicholas himself. It was the territory of the old Alexeevsky monastery, whereas the monastery itself was decided to move to Krasnoye Selo (today the Novo-Alexeevky monastery).  Money for building was collected in all the churches of Russia, the enormous sum totaling over 15 mil. roubles was provided by the treasury.

The laying of the foundation stone of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a national holiday with military parade and a procession through Moscow to honor veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 and the prayers for those who perished on the battlefields.

22 (O.S. 10) September 1839 "...Russia’s mother - Moscow seethed in solemn ecstasy, ... Moscow residents flocked from all sides to the place of the solemn procession. The army already in order deployed from the Assumption Cathedral to the very place of foundation of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. On the other side, to the right of the Cathedral of the Assumption, on sidewalks, in windows and on rooftops crowded spectators of the great capital; everywhere prevailed silence .... " The solemn procession - the clergy in full vestments, the emperor and the entire retinue followed on horseback, "... to the place of execution, by the church of St. Basil, along the embankment and Prechistenka by Carriage Court; it was led by Saint Filaret, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna.

Upon arrival at the foundation site and having pronounced a prayer, Emperor Nicholas I in the base of the temple laid a cruciform bronze plaque with the inscription: "In the summer of 1839, the day of September 10th, by order of the Great Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich the sacred vow, given by Emperor Alexander I who had passed away, is to be fulfilled by his own hand of Emperor Nicholas, failing to erect a temple of Christ the Saviour on the Sparrow Hills, as planned before, the foundation stone is laid at this place for the construction of the temple thereof.

The cathedral was being built from 1839 to 1883. Its height from the base to the cross reached 103.5 m, the wall thickness was 3 m 20 cm. The double walls had corridors, which contained 177 marble memorials with the description of the events of the Patriotic War of 1812 and Russian campaigns 1813–1814 in the chronological order. The cathedral was decorated by 38 painters: V. V. Vereshchagin, V. I. Surikov, K. E. Makovsky, F.  A. Bruni, I. N. Kramskoy, G. I. Semiradsky etc.    

The solemn ceremony of the cathedral’s opening took place on 26 May 1883, the year of Alexander III coronation. The veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 were invited to the ceremony.   

On 5 December 1931 the cathedral-memorial of military glory was destroyed by the explosion.  It was decided to build the Palace of Soviets (height 500 m.) on its place, but the Great Patriotic War broke out and the building was disassembled. In 1958 the swimming-pool “Moskva” was constructed on this place. 

In 1989 it was decided to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and in 1990 a temporary cornerstone was laid to the east of the pool. By December 2000 the decoration work was completed. The new cathedral differs from the original one by the stylobate part (too prolonged basement floor) that houses the Museum, the Hall of Church Assemblies, the Church of the Transfiguration, the Conference Hall of the Most Holy Governing Synod, refectory chambers and different technical services. However the new cathedral includes some old elements – marble memorial plaques from the bypass corridors and the fragments of the main iconostasis.

The interior of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour as it looks today
After the restoration the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the Cathedral of the Metropolitan of Moscow, where the main church festive services are held.  

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 September, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:24 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 September 2015 6:35 AM EDT
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Friday, 4 September 2015
St. Isaac's Cathedral to Remain a Museum Despite Request From Orthodox Church
Topic: Russian Church

St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg will remain the responsibility of the State Memorial Museum after city authorities decided not to transfer it into the care of the Russian Orthodox Church, as the church had requested, the city governor's spokesman Andrei Kibitov wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

He published an official letter from the deputy governor Alexander Govorunov — acting governor while Georgy Poltavchenko attends the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok — stating that if the cathedral were operated by the church, the maintenance costs would have to be covered by the city budget, and it is too great a burden in a “tough economic situation.”

“Every year the museum spends up to 200 million rubles ($3 million) on restoration works and maintenance. It also pays up to 70 million rubles ($1 million) in taxes to the city budget. Urgent restoration works will require 750 million rubles ($11.2 million) — part of which will be budget funding — until 2020,” Govorunov wrote in the letter.

If these expenses were laid fully on the city budget, funding for other social projects and programs would have to be cut, the acting governor added, concluding that it would be more rational to keep the cathedral within museum operations.

The letter, according to Kibitov's Twitter account, was sent to the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday.

The Russian Orthodox Church's request to take over the cathedral was addressed to Georgy Poltavchenko, the governor of St. Petersburg, in late July.

St Isaac's Cathedral is St. Petersburg's third most-visited cultural site and listed as an UNESCO cultural asset. The Soviet government turned the cathedral into a museum, but today the space is periodically used for church services.

© The Moscow Times. 04 September, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:29 AM EDT
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Friday, 7 August 2015
Tsar Nicholas II Bell Established in the Urals - One of Russia's Largest
Topic: Russian Church

The Tsar Nicholas II Bell - which depicts the images of the Holy Royal Martrs - weighing 16.5 tons was installed earlier this week in the bell tower of the Transfiguration Cathedral in St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye (Sverdlovsk region), a major spiritual center in the Urals. The bell is the third largest in the Archdiocese of Yekaterinburg and one of the twenty largest bells in Russia.

The installation of the bell has been heralded as an historic event, after overcoming numerous obstacles. The bell was delivered to the monastery back in January, however, it’s enormous size was too large to fit into the bell tower passage. As the cathedral is designated an architectural monument, any alterations to the structure had to wait for government approvals and permits to increase the size of the passage. Finally, on August 4th, the bell was hoisted by a giant crane and mounted on the central beam of the bell tower.

The creation of the main bell for the Verkhotursky Monastery was adopted six years ago, a joint decision of the church and regional authorities. The Tsar Nicholas II Bell was produced by the Ural factory Pyatkova in the city of Kamensk. The total cost of the Tsar Nicholas II Bell was nearly 13 million rubles. Nearly half of the money collected - about 6 million rubles - plus the copper and tin was provided by the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC). 

According to Archdeacon Dmitry Bazhanov, “with the main bell now in place, work can proceed on the installation of another 12 bells”, at the St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye. The remaining 12 bells, each weighing from 6 kg to 1140 kg, will be installed over the next 4 to 6 weeks. Once installed and the intricate ringing system arranged, the Verkhotursky bell tower will be one of the best in the Yekaterinburg diocese, and one of the finest bell towers of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

St. Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoturye (Sverdlovsk region). Transfiguration Cathedral with bell tower (left), Holy Cross Cathedral (right).
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 07 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:51 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 8 August 2015 7:45 AM EDT
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Friday, 31 July 2015
Historic Eparchial House in Moscow Opens After Decade Long Restoration
Topic: Russian Church

The Eparchial (Diocesan) House is situated on Likhov Lane in Moscow
On July 26, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited the newly restored Eparchial (Diocesan) House in Moscow. The restoration of the historic compound was carried out as part of the Presidential program of celebrations devoted to the millennium of the demise of the Holy Prince Vladimir.

His Holiness celebrated the Great Consecration of the Chapel of the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles at the Moscow Eparchial House, followed by a Divine Liturgy at the newly consecrated church. He also consecrated the lower church dedicated to St Tikhon and the Canonized Fathers of the 1917-1919 All-Russia Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The following day, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Chapel of the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles at the Moscow Diocesan House. He was greeted by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy in the Central Federal District Alexander Beglov, and Rector of the St Tikhon Humanitarian University Archpriest Vladimir Vorobyev.

President Vladimir Putin said that the building is very important for Russia’s culture and history, and went on to say that the restoration of this historical building is equally important. “It reflects the fact that we remember not only our victories, but also our mistakes”, — he explained. “We learn from our mistakes”, — added the president.

Putin also thanked Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kyrill for all he has done to help restore the Eparchial House. He then presented His Holiness with an icon of the Mother of God from the late 19th century. In turn, Patriarch Kirill presented the Russian president with an icon of St Vladimir.

Construction of the Eparchial House began in 1901 with the blessing of the Holy Martyr Vladimir (Epiphany), the Metropolitan of Moscow. The consecration of the house took place on November 5, 1902, and on December 30 the church was consecrated in the name of Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles.

After the 1917 October revolution, the Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church used the House for meetings. The Council restored the title of Patriarch and chose Tikhon as the next head of the Church. During the Russian Civil War Patriarch Tikhon was widely seen as anti-Bolshevik, and many members of the Orthodox clergy were jailed or executed by the new regime. 

On September 20, 1918 the work of the Local Council was forcibly interrupted, and on June 15, 1922 the Eparchial House was permanently closed. The Bolsheviks subsequently looted the buildings museum collections, and libraries, then destroyed the furniture. In April 1930, the former Eparchial House served as the Central Documentary Film Studio. Numerous reconstructions during the Soviet years resulted in the building losing its historic appearance, including the destruction of the bell tower and dome of the Vladimir Church.

The Eparchial House was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2004. Its reconstruction and restoration lasted 10 years. By the summer of 2014, work was completed on the preparation of the upper walls of the church. On December 17, 2014 the consecration and lifting of the cross and the bell tower dome of the Church of St. Vladimir was carried out.

The Eparchial House is a designated cultural heritage site, and protected under laws of the Russian Federation, it is located in Likhov Lane in Moscow. The historic building will now be home to the Orthodox St. Tikhon University of the Humanities.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 31 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:31 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 10:22 AM EDT
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Sunday, 26 July 2015
ROC Seek Return of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
Topic: Russian Church

St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have confirmed that they have filed a petition to local politicians in St Petersburg to discuss the return of St. Isaac's Cathedral, which is currently an historical monument and a museum. Russian media sources report that the news of the proposal has generated heated discussion in Russian society.

Maxim Reznik, the deputy of the St. Petersburg legislative, and who also chairs the legislature’s commission for culture, confirmed on Thursday that he had received information on a petition filed by Metropolitan Barsanuphius, the ruling hierarch of the diocese for the return of the city’s landmark cathedral.

The State Historical Museum is not opposed to the transfer so long as the ROC will not prevent tourists from accessing the cathedral. A representative from the museum cited the example of St Basil's Cathedral, which has long been operated jointly by the organisation he represents and the ROC without causing any hindrance to the thousands of tourists who visit every year. The cathedral is open to visitors throughout the week, the price of admission is currently 250 rubles or the Sunday service with free admission. 

Emperor Alexander I, ordered the famous architect Auguste de Montferrand to construct the cathedral on St Isaac's Square. The cathedral took 40 years to construct, from 1818 to 1858, at the incredible amount of 1,000,000 gold rubles. St. Isaac’s is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint. 

During the Soviet period, the cathedral was stripped of religious trappings. In 1931, it was turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. During World War II, the dome was painted over in grey to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. With the fall of communism, the museum was removed and regular worship activity resumed in the cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel. The main body of the cathedral is used for services on feast days only.

Services resumed in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in 1990, after an interval of 59 years. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, several notable funerals have been held in the cathedral, including Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich in 1992, and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 2006.

At present, the cathedral is owned by the city and is part of a state museum monument along with the Church of the Saviour on Blood, St. Sampson’s and Smolny Cathedrals. The city authorities are already considering a handover of the Smolny cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 26 July 2015 8:17 PM EDT
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Sunday, 14 June 2015
Giant Statue of Orthodox Prince Vladimir the Great Stirs Controversy in Moscow
Topic: Russian Church

Scaffolding surrounds the vast clay sculpture-in-progress of Prince Vladimir the Great  inside a warehouse on Moscow's outskirts
Scaffolding surrounds the vast clay sculpture-in-progress inside a warehouse on Moscow's outskirts, yet already the statue of Vladimir the Great has caused an outcry as big as the monument itself.

The 24-metre (78-feet) high likeness of the man who brought Christianity to Kievan Rus - the forerunner of modern Russia and Ukraine - is set to tower over the capital, the latest potent symbol in a surge of patriotism taking hold in Russia.

Prince Vladimir is revered as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church and a hero by others, including the noted sculptor of the work, Salavat Shcherbakov. But not all Moscow agrees.

"He's a figure whom the people, the country, can rely on. And he is important right now" he said, working on the ornate robes as Vladimir looms above, right hand raised high ready to hold a cross.

Russian sculptor Salavat Scherbakov climbs the scaffolding around his model for a monument of St. Vladimir at his orkshop in Moscow 
Public outcry

The final, cast bronze is scheduled for installation in September on a prime spot called Sparrow Hills, overlooking all of Moscow - and where all of Moscow will see Vladimir.

But the choice has proved so divisive it may be changed.
In a flurry of public anger, more than 59,000 people joined an online petition against the planned location, one of the city's best-loved viewpoints high above Moscow's centre.

Several thousand students and staff at the nearby Moscow State University also signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin opposing the statue.

Even some of the leather clad bikers who roar up to Sparrow Hills each evening are not happy. "Who is this statue for? I think it's totally inappropriate here," said Sergei Govinov, two gold crosses dangling on his tanned chest "Where are we going to meet now?"

"It outrages all sorts of different people," said local councillor and anti-statue campaigner Yelena Rusakova. "In recent years in Moscow, I can't remember another example of so many people signing a petition and writing letters."

Tall as it is, the statue is still dwarfed by Moscow's biggest such monuments, like the Soviet-era Worker and Collective Farm Worker that stands 25 metres high on a 33-metre pedestal. And a widely reviled monument to Tsar Peter the Great by Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli is even taller, at 98 metres.

An artist's concept of the statue of Prince Vladimir the Great overlooking Moscow from its proposed location on Sparrow Hills
Church backing

Backed by the Russian Orthodox Church and the culture ministry, the Vladimir monument is part of a drive to boost patriotism by evoking historic glories and conservative Christian values.

An Orthodox youth group gathered more than 62,000 signatures online in support of the project.

But opponents say Vladimir the Great has no historic links to Moscow, which did not exist at the time.

And they say he is already commemorated with a large statue in Kiev, the capital of former Soviet neighbour Ukraine with which Moscow is locked in a bitter standoff after it annexed the Crimea region and was accused of stirring a separatist conflict.

Other opponents have warned that the 300-tonne statue perched on the edge of a steep 100-metre high slope above Moscow River could cause a catastrophic landslide.

Scuffles recently broke out at a protest at the site when pro-Kremlin bikers tore posters and shouted abuse at people campaigning against the statue.

In a surprise, last-minute turnabout, the pro-government military history society that commissioned and financed the monument has now asked city authorities to consider other locations.

The statue, the society said "Citing the protests and 'safety concerns', should be an indisputably uniting factor".

Anti-statue protestor Rusakova has cautioned opponents not to relax and to continue the campaign, noting the city council will not rule on the matter until July.

"The most important thing is that there is a shared desire among the citizens of our country for this sculpture to go up," said sculptor Shcherbakov, denouncing what he sees as "some people are purely ideological" arguments against the monument.

©  Agence France-Presse. 14 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:40 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 June 2015 7:53 AM EDT
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Friday, 8 May 2015
Historic 18th Century Orthodox Church Reconstructed in Moscow
Topic: Russian Church

Originally constructed in 1781, the historic church was demolished in 1963 to construct a new Metro line in Moscow
The consecration ceremony of the reconstructed Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Moscow’s Preobrazhenskaya Square was held on Friday. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia led the dedication service.

The Russian prime minister’s wife Svetlana Medvedeva, Minister of Healthcare Veronika Skvortsova, Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin, Deputy Minister of Defence Nikolai Pankov, Presidential Envoy to the Central Federal District Alexander Beglov, and other officials attended the ceremony and laid flowers at the plaque honoring the soldiers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment.

“Thousands of people gathered on this square in the days of the Great Patriotic War to find courage, strength, and faith at this church, faith in our victory over the Nazi legions,” Sobyanin said. “This church really did give our soldiers faith and strength. It is no coincidence that this church and memorial have been restored and are being opened on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory.”

Patriarch Kirill called the reconstruction of the Transfiguration Church an important historical event. The Patriarch presented The Image of the Lord Jesus Christ Not Made by Hands to the church, saying “Let it remind those who will serve and pray here about this wonderful day when the soldiers’ church, which was once destroyed, was opened again. The reconstruction of this church was finished on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.”

The patriarch awarded Svetlana Medvedeva with the Insignia of Saint Olga, the church’s highest award for women. Russian Orthodox Church awards were also presented to Mikhail Abramov, the founder of the Museum of Russian Icon and a number of other city and church officials 

The stone Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour in Preobrazhenskoye was built in 1781. The soldiers and officers of the Moscow Guard Battalion sponsored the construction. The decision to demolish the church was made by the Moscow State Executive Committee in 1963 under the pretext of needing to construct a new section of the Kirovskaya Line of the Moscow Metro.

The church was blown up on the night of July 18, 1964, despite public protests (about 2,500 signatures to protect the church had been collected). The demolition of the church on Preobrazhenskaya Square was the last case of demolishing operating churches in Moscow.

The altar screen and some furniture and interior details were moved to other churches in Moscow.

The decision to restore the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour on the site where it once stood was taken by the Moscow Government on 17 July 2009 (Directive No 1580-RP) upon the initiative of the public. The restoration began in September 2009 and ended in April 2015. The project was financed by private donations.

The facades of six nearby buildings have also been renovated, as well as the sidewalks and the road pavement. The lawns on Preobrazhenskaya Square, which was decorated for Victory Day, have been replanted. 
© Moscow City Government. 08 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:05 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 9 May 2015 4:21 AM EDT
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Saturday, 21 March 2015
Moscow's Novodevichy Convent Bell Tower Damaged in Fire
Topic: Russian Church

Fire rages in the Bell Tower of the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow on March 16th
Photo © EPA 
On March 16, a fire that raged at the bell tower of Moscow's iconic Novodevichy Convent may have been caused by a short circuit or gold thieves, Russian media reported.

A 300-square-meter blaze spread along the scaffolding which had earlier been erected around the convent's bell tower for renovations. The fire was extinguished at 1:23 a.m. on Monday after some 100 firefighters were dispatched to the scene, the press service of the Emergency Situations Ministry's Moscow branch said in comments carried by Interfax.

No one was injured in the incident.

According to Interfax's report, a short circuit could have occurred as a result of restoration work that had required the use of heat guns, tools that emit a stream of hot air and are used for stripping paint and similar activities.

Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Pirumov cast doubt on this possible explanation for the fire, saying that restoration work on the bell tower had been completed some 12 hours before the blaze broke out and that workers had switched off all power sources.

"The heat guns had been turned off one week ago," Interfax quoted Pirumov as saying. "There were no power sources in [the bell tower.]"

A range of alternative theories about the origin of the fire have emerged in Russian media. The RIA Novosti news agency cited an unnamed source in Moscow law enforcement as saying that the fire could have been sparked by thieves who had climbed the scaffolding to steal the bell tower's gilded ornaments.

Pirumov added that the bell tower's interior had largely been spared from the flames and that private contractors would assume the cost of further restoration, Interfax reported.

The Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent, one of Moscow's top tourist attractions, was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2004. The convent was founded by Grand Duke Vasily III in the 1520s to mark the return of Smolensk to Russia from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, according to UNESCO.

© The Moscow Times. 21 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:20 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 21 March 2015 4:23 AM EDT
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