05/23/2019, 14.33
RUSSIA
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Plans for Yekaterinburg’s new St Catherine's Cathedral scrapped

The church was to be built in a public park, but 74 per cent of residents do not want it in the chosen site. The protests are the first strong expression of opposition to Patriarch Kirill's plan to build "200 churches a year".

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The authorities have scrapped plans to build a cathedral dedicated to Saint Catherine in the city of Yekaterinburg, following protests by local residents opposed to the chosen site, a public park and one of the city’s few green areas.

Yesterday, Yevgeny Kuyvashev, governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, of which Yekaterinburg is the capital, said that “the conflict is over”, and that the church would be built elsewhere.

Reacting to protests, President Vladimir Putin had called for a poll to "find the optimal solution for those who live there".

VTsIOM, the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, conducted a survey of 3,000 people between 16 and 20 May. About 74 per cent said "no" to the Orthodox church.

Building new churches is one of the most important goals of Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev), who wants to open "200 churches a year" to re-establish the sacred places of Christianity destroyed under Soviet rule.

So far, the opposition to the Yekaterinburg cathedral has been the strongest in the country. For Russians, the city is highly charged symbolically: not only is it the fourth largest Russian city, it is also the place where Tsar Nicolas II was murdered with his family in July 1918.

In recent weeks, thousands of people occupied the park clashing with cathedral supporters. Protests led to the arrest of about a hundred people, 33 of whom sentenced to jail terms ranging from 2 to 15 days.

"Nobody is against a church, but everyone is against building one here. "There are lots of churches here... But not much green space is left in the city," one protester is quoted as saying.

For his part, Vakhtang Kipshidze, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, accused protesters of being "anti-religious".

"There are a multitude of lawful ways of expressing disagreement,” he said, “but to create conflict on religious grounds is especially sad on the soil of Yekaterinburg, where not so long ago by historical standards mass religious persecution took place and Tsar Nicholas II and his young children were murdered.”

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