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Request for referendum against iconic Petersburg cathedral's transfer to church approved

March 28, 2017, 18:13 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

The cathedral’s compound is owned by the city’s authorities but it enjoys the protection of federal government agencies

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© Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, March 28. /TASS/. The St. Petersburg Election Commission registered an initiative group on Tuesday to hold a citywide referendum on preserving the museum status of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, a TASS correspondent reported from the commission’s meeting. At present, the issue of the plebiscite’s possibility is to be reviewed by the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

"The petition submitted on holding a referendum conforms with the law. The commission decided to forward a resolution on registering the initiative group to the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly," said the commission’s deputy chair, Nadezhda Lebedeva.

Those taking part in the referendum will be presented with the following question to answer: "Do you agree that the monuments of history and culture of federal significance owned by St. Petersburg, namely, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral should be attached to state museums while ensuring the possibility of holding religious rituals and ceremonies in them?"

In addition to local lawmakers who earlier had held several rallies for preserving St. Isaac’s museum status, the initiative group includes members of the Russian Union of Cultural Workers, the St. Petersburg Union of Scientists, the movement of Orthodox Christians seeking the preservation of St. Isaac’s cathedral as both a cathedral and a museum and political organizations, including the People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS).

The St. Petersburg city government earlier said Governor Georgy Poltavchenko had struck agreement with the Russian Orthodox metropolitan diocese of St Petersburg and Ladoga on December 30, 2016, on the transfer of the St Isaac’s to the administrative realm of the Church for a period of 49 years.

The cathedral’s compound is owned by the city’s authorities but it enjoys the protection of federal government agencies, and UNESCO placed it in 1986 on the list of world heritage sites. 

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