2008-04-11 11:39:00

Orthodox compound in Jerusalem to be handed over to Russia

Jerusalem, April 11, Interfax - An Orthodox compound in Jerusalem, Segiyevskoye Podvorye, will be handed over to Russia in the coming months, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's official spokesman Eddi Shapira told a delegation of Russian journalists in Jerusalem's City Hall.

He said he hoped law proceedings would be over within months.

Earlier, the Russian Ambassador to Israel Pyotr Stegny, meeting with Russian journalists in a cultural center in Jerusalem, sited a March 12 report in one of the state newspapers that Sergiyevskoye Podvorye would be re-registered and that other bidders, if there were any, could file their applications.

"The process should be over by the end of June," the ambassador said, adding that the compound would be handed over to Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church comes third after the Vatican and the Greeks by the amount of its property on the Holy Land but much of this property is in disorder, he said.

Stegny expressed doubt that the property sold by Nikita Khrushchev in 1964 (the so-called "orange deal") could be returned.

"I don't think anything can be done here. This is a legitimate deal," he said.