(AsiaNews) - Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, symbol of Russia's
spiritual renaissance, has become a shopping mall run by the Orthodox Church, a
prominent consumer rights watchdog says in a lawsuit against the Moscow
Patriarchate. For some commentators, this is but the latest attack against the
Russian Orthodox Church, which of late has been caught up in several controversies
and media scandals.
to the Consumer Rights Protection Society, the cathedral hosts numerous
businesses, including jewellery and souvenir stands, an eatery, dry cleaner and
a report, it says the cathedral has become a de facto mall, but is not identified
as such. What is more, its tenants do not comply with various regulations for
commercial enterprises. For this reason, the consumer watchdog wants all
it noted that whilst religious organisations enjoy various tax breaks in
Russia, those do not include their commercial operations not directly related
to religious services.
court in the capital has accepted the lawsuit, but has not yet set a date for a
hearing, Ria Novosti reported.
cathedral does not belong to the church, which only rents out space on the
premises, Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Vladimir Vigilyansky told Ria Novosti.
the lies propagated by the media, which say that the church is running
commercial operations at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, will hopefully be
finally disproven," Vigilyansky added.
making this statement, Vigilyansky resigned as Patriarch Kirill's press agent.
to Kommersant, he quit because he
could not also act as rector in a church near Moscow to which he was recently
appointed. Others tie his resignation to a number of scandals that have hit recently
the Russian Orthodox Church, which Church leaders say are an "attack from
in fact, the Church has been embroiled in several controversies, including Kirill's
reaction to a provocation by a punk group called Pussy Riot, a picture on the Patriarchate's
website showing the patriarch himself wearing an expensive watch that was later
photoshopped out as well as reports about his luxury homes, including a prestigious
flat in front of the Kremlin.