The Russian Orthodox Church is stepping up its bid for more control over the Solovki islands in the White Sea. Now, also the federal government might be open for more church government on the sacred and popular islands.
According to Rosbaltnord.ru, Russian President Vladimir Putin is positive towards a transfer of all objects of religious importance on the islands to the church. The new signals could possibly have major consequences for the local tourist industry, as well as the permanent population on the island.
Today, the local museum manages several of the ancient buildings and sites on the islands, but has long been challenged by the church over the management rights of the objects. Head of the museum Mikhail Lopatkin says he has not yet been officially informed about the reported transfer to the church, but admits that the president through a decree has the right to close the museum.
Also head of the local municipal administration, Dmitrii Lugovoy, says he has not yet been informed about possible changes for the local population. Speculations have said that the 950 people on the island would have to be resettled to the mainland should the church take over control over the island.
Relations between the church and the local museum and tourism industry have long been bad because of the diverging views on the status of the islands. Recently Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga demanded a moratoria on the granting of local land to the tourist industry.