Rurik Prince Goes to Court
Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) was the last recognised descendant of the Rurik dynasty
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The Russian state has been given a month by a court to prove it owns the Kremlin after descendants of Ivan the Terrible filed a lawsuit to stake their claim to the Moscow landmark.
The Princes Foundation, an organisation representing the descendants of Rurik, a ninth century prince whose eponymous dynasty ruled until 1598, has argued that its ancestors built and lived in the 69-acre Kremlin complex and that it should now be returned to their ownership.
“I want to remind the Russian authorities that the Kremlin belongs to the Ruriks,” said Grand Prince Valery Kubarev, 47, a Moscow businessman who said his family traced its roots back to the Viking chieftain.
The prince said he wanted “indefinite and 24-hour use” of at least one of the Kremlin’s four palaces or of several of its 19 towers for the Princes Foundation, which he heads. The fortress has changed hands often in Russia’s tumultuous history and past owners include two royal dynasties – one of which was the Ruriks – the Bolsheviks and the modern Russian state.
The problem for the state is that no official ownership of the Kremlin has ever been registered. The prince wants his foundation to be awarded management rights over the sprawling complex, for the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to be housed there, and for his foundation to be allowed to hold cultural, political and religious events inside its famous walls.
“The property was not purchased from us, was not lawfully taken away from us, and the federal authorities do not have any right to our property. The Ruriks demand the return of our property, rent from the government for the illegal possession of our property, and financial compensation,” he said.
The Kremlin, once the seat of Soviet power, is now the official residence of President Dmitry Medvedev and his staff. Much of what was originally conceived as a fortress on the banks of the Moscow river dates from the end of the 15th century, when Grand Prince Ivan III, a Rurik, renovated the complex. He was succeeded by Ivan the Terrible, who commissioned the construction of St Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square next to the Kremlin and was known for his harsh rule and empire building. Although much of it is off-limits to the public, the Kremlin remains one of the most popular tourist sites in Russia.
Lawyers for the Russian government have dismissed the lawsuit as a “farce” without merit and with no chance of success.
But a Moscow court has agreed to hear the case and, to the surprise of many, granted an appeal from the Ruriks obliging the government to provide evidence, including land registry documents, of its ownership by Sept 14. Alexander Zakatov, a spokesman for descendants of Russia’s other ruling dynasty, the Romanovs, said it had no plans to stake its own claim.
Source: The Telegraph