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ST PETERSBURG, July 28. /TASS/. Urban activists in St. Petersburg have launched a sign-up campaign in protest against plans for the handover of St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church. When the required number of signatures has been collected, the petition will be sent to the governor and government of St. Petersburg and posted on the web portal change.org.
"The transfer of monuments and museums which have long been St. Petersburg’s landmarks to the Russian Orthodox Church will make them less available to common tourists," the petition says.
The authors fear that "the Russian Orthodox Church will lack the resources to carry out large-scale restoration of unique cultural assets or to maintain them in the proper condition." They also argue that if the cathedral is returned to the Church, the "educational function will be eliminated, because the Russian Orthodox Church is unlikely to arrange for excursions, exhibitions and classical music concerts."
The petition mentions that St. Isaac’s Cathedral features on the list of UNESCO’s cultural assets and is third most-visited cultural site in St. Petersburg. Over three million tourists from all over the world visit St. Isaac’s every year.
The petition’s authors are to collect five thousand signatures. Over the past four days, as can be seen on the website, 3,900 people voted against the cathedral’s handover to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Earlier, the St. Petersburg diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church requested the disinterested return of St. Isaac’s which currently enjoys the status of a museum.
The city authorities have said no decision on the issue has been made so far.
"The issue raised by the St. Petersburg’s Diocese needs close and all round-scrutiny in keeping with the interests of all Petersburgers and city guests," the city governor’s spokesman, Andrei Kibitov, told TASS earlier.
At the moment St. Isaac’s Cathedral is city property and part of the state-run museum incorporating the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, St. Sampson’s Cathedral and the Smolny Cathedral. Church services have been held regularly inside St. Isaac’s Cathedral for years despite its museum status.