03 March 2020, 11:20
Munich-based Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society contests transfer of Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem to Russia
Berlin, March 3, Interfax - The historical Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (Munich), which runs the Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem, has filed an appeal with the Israeli authorities contesting a decision to transfer the property to Russia's organization that carries the same name, the society's director Nikolay Worontsow-Hoffmann told Interfax.
"We have lodged our appeal with the state registrar. In actual fact, there is silence now," he said.
"The 60-day deadline [for filing the appeal] expired yesterday, but we lodged our protest, which consists of several hundred pages, on time," Worontsow-Hoffmann said.
The Alexander Metochion is situated in the Old Town of Jerusalem, in close proximity to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is an archeological and architectural compound standing on land bought by Russian Emperor Alexander III in 1859.The compound was built by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in 1896.
The controversy surrounding its ownership began after the 1917 revolution. In 1918, the head of the society, Prince Alexey Shirinsky-Shikhmatov, fled Russia, as most of the society's members did at the time. Shirinsky-Shikhmatov arrived in Berlin and the society resumed its operation there.
At present, two different organization of the same name - Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society - exist separately in Russia and in Germany. In 1992, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation approved a resolution on "the restoration of the historical name of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society." The Justice Ministry then recognized it as a successor to the Soviet Palestine Society and to the historical society.
The German society is led by Worontsow-Hoffmann, the Russian one by Sergei Stepashin, a former head of the Accounts Chamber. Currently, the metochion is occupied by Vorontsov-Hofmann's organization registered in Munich. Stepashin's organization is contesting the ownership of the metochion.
According to Worontsow-Hoffmann, before they left Palestine in 1948, the British authorities confirmed the society's right to all related property on the Holy Land.