Opposition in the St. Petersburg dispute rallies 


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 21 February 2017


Residents of St. Petersburg and the museum community are protesting against the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral to the church.


In January 2017, after the governor of St. Petersburg, Georgy Poltavchenko, on 10 January 2017 announced that the issue of the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church was already decided, protests began in the city.


A petition that was created in July 2015, "We demand to stop the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral into the administration of the RPTs," has again become timely. At the present time, 165,000 persons have signed it on the platform. Signatures are being collected in parallel on another platform also.


On 11 January representatives of the "Spring" movement hoisted a banner, "No to RPTs," in the colonnade of St. Isaac's.


On 13 January, individual pickets of communists were conducted beside the building. They held placards: "We demand to prevent the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral museum to RPTs," and "No to medievalism."


On the same day on the website of the Union of Museums of Russia there appeared a statement in support of the "St. Isaac's cathedral" monument museum. "This is a unique museum," the text says, "which not only does not receive a kopeck from the state budget for current expenses but also all work for restoration is performed at the expense of its own receipts." Museum staff members are concerned not only about the preservation of the building and objects of the museum holdings but also the fate of their colleagues, 400 staff workers of the state institution of culture, who are losing their job.


On 14 January, an initiative group "Witnesses of the Foucault pendulum" planned a series of individual pickets near the cathedral building.


On 28 January 2017, a demonstration of protest against the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral to the RPTs was conducted on Mars Field. Several thousand persons (from 2 to 5 thousand, by various estimates) participated in the demonstration. Many held balloons with the inscription "No to RPTs."


On 12 February a second large demonstration of protest against the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral to the diocese was conducted. Around 2,000 persons took part, standing in a thick ring around the cathedral.


After the rally, several persons continued the protest in the cathedral building. In response to this unplanned demonstration, organizers of the rally published a statement in which they asked that the demonstration inside the cathedral be stopped and not discredit "the carefully planned action in defense of the museum by occasional PR-flare ups."


On 20 February 2017, it was learned that the initiative group for conducting a referendum on the transfer of St. Isaac's cathedral had also included in their draft questions of the possible transfer to the diocese of the cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the cathedral of the Savior on the Blood. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 February 2017)

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