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St. PETERSBURG, July 31. /TASS/. Director of the world-famous State Hermitage Museum, Mikhail Piotrovsky believes the cultural and architectural landmark of the city, the St. Isaac’s cathedral should the transferred to the administrative realm of the museum agglomeration he stands at the head of, not to the Russian Orthodox Church, which has filed a request for an indefinite rent of the majestic building.
Before the revolutions of 1917, "the Cathedral was run by the Ministry of the Court and that’s why it should be subordinated to the State Hermitage Museum now, since the museum also used to report to the same ministry then," Piotrovsky said when TASS asked him about his attitude to the idea of placing the St. Isaac’s under administrative supervision of the Church.
A request for an indefinite rent was filed earlier this month by the Russian Orthodox diocese of St. Petersburg. Officials at the city government said no decision on the request had been taken and the issue would be settled with due account of the interests of city residents and numerous tourists.
Activists who call themselves to be "defenders of the city" have organized a signup campaign against the Church’s aspirations and deputies of the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly are mulling a referendum on the future destiny of the landmark compound.
St. Isaac’s is owned by the city authorities and is part of a monument museum along with the Church of the Savior on Blood, the St. Sampson’s and Smolny cathedrals. Although it has a museum status, liturgies are held there regularly.
The cathedral is a site of UNESCO’s global cultural heritage and the third most visited sight in the city. It is visited by more than 3 million tourists from all parts of the world annually.