<19th-century St Isaac’s Cathedral on the main street Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg, Russia
More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition on Change.org opposing the handover of St Isaac's Cathedral back to the Orthodox Church, which was the main cathedral in Tsarist Russia (AFP Photo/MARTIN BUREAU)
From AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Jan 14, 2017
Russians living in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg have been protesting against city authorities’ decision to hand control of the country’s largest cathedral to the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.
Currently owned by the city, the imposing 19th-century St Isaac’s Cathedral on the main street Nevsky Prospekt, is a popular tourist attraction, open as a museum, gallery and concert hall, and also used for religious services.
The dispute centres on a decision by the state to hand the cathedral’s management over to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Some fear the Church will make the cathedral less accessible — which it denies — while others oppose the state handing over control of a key asset without consulting local residents.
On Friday evening, some 600 residents gathered for a protest outside the Cathedral organised by opposition lawmakers, with slogans on placards including “Church – know your place”.
“It’s obvious the Church intends to grab the tastiest morsel. What’s most disgusting is the decision was taken behind the backs of the residents. No one asked us if we agreed,” said one protestor, 50-year-old Sergei Anapov.