Occupied Sevastopol built over by Russian churches

19 July 2019, 12:27 | Moscow Patriarchy | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

The project of construction of a temple of the Holy Blessed Matrona of Moscow in the area of Omega Bay is being discussed in Russian-occupied Sevastopol. The church is being erected on a vacant lot behind the administration of Gagarin District, opposite the Victory Park and near the beach area.

According to Krym.Realii, the media outlet Primechaniya was the first to draw attention to the fact that the projects published on the site of the future construction and on the website of the Russian government of the city are different. If the facility data sheet shows only the temple, the government website shows the temple and the chapel, that is, a hotel for parishioners.

In response to this, on July 16, in his comment to Forpost media outlet, Archpriest Sergiy Haluta assured that the hotel is not being built, it was the plan that was eventually rejected.

Nevertheless, the construction of the temple caused a protest of local residents. According to a journalist from Sevastopol, David Axelrod, the story became relevant against the background of the developments in Yekaterinburg, where people went out for a long-term mass protests against the construction of a temple of the Russian Orthodox Church, Relihiyna Pravda reports.

“It is not the church or religious buildings that the people oppose – they say that Sevastopol seriously lacks public spaces, green spaces. The city experiences an outburst of chaotic occasional construction, this is one of the biggest problems,” said the journalist.

Axelrod also noted that after the 2014 occupation Russian government of Sevastopol gave permission for the construction of dozens of religious buildings in the city.

"During the construction of a wooden church in the area of Stoletov Avenue a small protest also took place. They found a sort of consensus that the church would ennoble the square, the trees will not be cut down, and the temple was built after all. The most striking example is the construction of the temple in Ushakova Balka, which was presented to Sevastopol by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The territory of Ushakova Balka was preserved intact, the residents tried to convince the Church to build the temple 30 meters farther. This story lasted for a long time, with eventual outbursts of activity: because of the protests the construction was postponed, then started again. Pilgrims came to this place to say prayers, people came out, they were indignant – and it was again postponed. Something is being slowly constructed there. One way or another, the territories for churches are allocated: sometimes this happens with the approval of citizens, sometimes it causes protests,” Axelrod said.

Russian religious sociologist Nikolai Mitrokhin, speaking of hotels at the temples, noted that they are not too common in the tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church, however, said that he sees nothing wrong in the fact, if they appear, in particular, in Crimea, because Sevastopol, in a broader context, is positioned by Russian government as an important historical center for the Russian nation.”

The special role of Chersonesos (the ancient Greek city-state within the boundaries of the current Sevastopol) was previously noted by the President of the aggressor country, Vladimir Putin.

“It was here, in Crimea, in ancient Chersonesos, or, as it was called by Russian chroniclers, Korsun, that Prince Vladimir was baptized, and then he baptized the whole of Russia... Christianity was a powerful spiritual unifying force that allowed to integrate in the formation of the one Russian nation and the formation of a common state a variety of tribes and tribal unions of the vast East Slavic world. And it is on this spiritual basis that our ancestors became aware of themselves as a single people for the first time and forever,” Putin said in his address to the Federal Assembly in 2014.

Later, in August 2017, Putin called for the development of the so-called cultural tourism in Crimea and the creation of a “Russian Mecca” in Chersonesos.

In turn, Ukrainian historian Vasyl Pavlov is confident that the idea of creating the “Russian Mecca” in Crimea does not stand up to criticism. “Neither historical nor ideological criticism. Here the question of marking the territory arises. That is, Russia, represented by Putin, is marking the territory, while in Ukraine this already causes laughter: spiritual bonds, sacredness. The creation of such a religious center in Sevastopol, which is associated with the naval base, with the “city of Russian glory”, causes a certain rejection on our part, because in Ukrainian historical science the question of the baptism of Russia and in connection with this event, of the territory of Sevastopol and Chersonesos has long been discussed, and historians have concluded that the final baptism of Russia had not taken place there. It is at least strange to build any kind of ideological concept on it. This city, the cities on this territory have a lot of historical pages, but they are carefully erased, and a separate point is highlighted, on which the ideology of the modern Russian state is based,” Vasyl Pavlov said.

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