St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg will be transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, but it will preserve its museum function, said the press secretary of the governor of the "northern capital" Andrei Kibitov to reporters on January 10, reports Interfax.
"The information is true. The decision has been taken. However, there are lots of peculiarities in the issues of the future use and transfer of the cathedral. They will be finalized and presented in the near future," said A. Kibitov.
He added that by agreement between the Governor of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko and Patriarch Kirill St. Isaac's Cathedral will keep its museum and educational function.
According A.Kibitova, the transfer of the cathedral to the Church requires a number of complex agreements, including with the Ministry of Culture, as the temple is under the protection of UNESCO and it houses a large number of museum exhibits.
"It will take more than a day or two to resolve these issues, it's a long time. Perhaps, months," said A. Kibitov.
As previously reported by the director of the State Museum "St. Isaac's Cathedral" Nikolai Burov, annually at St. Isaac's Cathedral about 600 services are held. According to him, the museum "categorically does not prevent the Church to perform ceremonies, despite the fact that it is very difficult for the museum, which, by the way, received more than 3.6 million visitors last year."
In August 2015 it became known that the Church requests the city authorities to hand over St. Isaac's Cathedral to it. Earlier the Smolny and Sampson Cathedrals, which were a part of the same name state museum-monument, had already been transferred to the Church.
Church initiative to transfer St. Isaac's Cathedral caused a heated debate and protests of the cultural and museum community. MPs appealed to the City Election Commission with a proposal to hold a referendum on the issue, but they were denied.
In September 2015 St. Petersburg’s authorities decided against the transfer of s CathSt. Isaac's Cathedral Church for economic reasons, but the diocese announced their intention to challenge the refusal of Smolny in the court. Later, a similar attempt was made by Orthodox activists, but the court dismissed their appeal.