Thursday, September 20, 2007

Orthodox Church “Killed” Popular Sanctuary-Museum

The RF government has taken a decision to convey the sanctuary – museum Solovetskiye Islands – one of the Russian most popular tourist objects – to the Orthodox Church, including all historical monuments on the islands. The Solovetsky museum-sanctuary now has to leave all the premises it occupies which goes against the agreement over joint preservation of historic heritage signed by the museum, monastery, and the local municipality in 2005.

Solovetskiye Islands are annually visited by over 30 thousand tourists. According to the data provided by travel companies, 80% of all tourists later visit the islands again. After conveying all property of the islands to the Russian Orthodox Church, the sanctuary-museum automatically turns into a closed zone that can be accessed only by Orthodox palmers although the islands are a historical complex and implies that it must be accessible for all Russian citizens and foreign tourists.

Despite the timid protests of the museum’s director and his employees the decision has been irrevocably taken. The logic of the Russian authorities is clear: the sanctuary-museum has been financed by the state budget and takes considerable amounts of money. Conveying the islands to the Church means that it will be the Orthodox to contribute financially to maintenance and restoration of the sanctuary-museum.



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