02 August 2011, 12:25
Minister of Culture: Parish of Constantinople Patriarchate illegally occupies Russian cathedral in Nice
Moscow, August 2, Interfax - The Russian Embassy in Paris, France, is working out a plan for specific efforts to recover the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, France, owned by the Russian Federation, Alexander Avdeyev, the former ambassador of Russia to France and the current Minister of Culture of Russia, said.
"The cathedral has been occupied by the parish of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe (albeit illegally after the court ruling). No keys have so far been transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Embassy in France will decide upon specific efforts to recover the property," Avdeyev states in an article run by Ogonyok weekly.
He recalls that the land under the cathedral had been purchased by Russia by the will of Tsar Alexander II. Eventually, the land with the right to construct a church on it was granted to the Russian Orthodox Church for the so-called "emphyteutic" lease of 99 years. Thus, upon expiry of this lease, the land and constructions thereon must be transferred back to the owner. After the 1917 Revolution, the church built from government and public donations was originally used by the Russian Orthodox Church and was later given to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The lease term expired in January 2008, and Russia asked to return the building and land.
"As ambassador I personally notified the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe (exarchate of the ecumenical patriarchate) that the lease term was about to expire and we needed to look for some options for occupation of the cathedral by the parish. I mentioned that the parish might stay if we managed to agree upon new lease conditions bearing in mind that the church was the property of the Russian Federation. But no talks were held," the article says.
Avdeyev also said charging of entrance fee by the current lessees was unacceptable practice.
"We may assume quite a large amount of money collected in Nice which sees tourist influx every summer. There is big money behind this whole affair," he believes.
This May, the appelate court of Aix-en-Provence, France, hold Russia the owner of St. Nicolas Cathedral.
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