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Prof. Dr. S.V. Zagraevsky


About the transfer of architectural, historical and cultural monuments

to religious organizations




The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.




Let's start with some General remarks. According to the 2007 public opinion poll, believing himself believes about half of the citizens of Russia. Of them Orthodox Orthodox confessions adhere 66-67 %, Islam - 6-8 %, any of the other faiths (including old believers, who also consider themselves Orthodox) - not more than 2 %.

There may be a feeling that the dominance of Orthodoxy in Russia is so great that any conflicts on religious grounds that undermine the unity of the country, there is not and cannot be. But in fact, this an illusion, and very harmful. Why is understandable.

Yes, historically, that the main religion in Russia, it was precisely Orthodoxy. Even in the preamble to the Law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" recognized "the special role of Orthodoxy in the history of Russia in the formation and development of its spirituality and culture", and it is difficult to argue. This is the Russian tradition, and in the world Russia is perceived as "Orthodox" country.

But do not confuse tradition and authentic, deep religious convictions. If one adheres to traditional views, they are not necessarily his deep personal conviction - there can only be a quite natural (at least in adulthood), the desire to be "like everyone else". But if a person chooses something that runs counter to the tradition, - he usually chooses it deliberately and will be ready to defend those beliefs.

Therefore, in the traditional Russian Orthodox (nikonian) Orthodoxy, as epitomized by the Russian Orthodox Church (hereafter will be without reservations call it Orthodoxy), the gap between the Declaration of religious affiliation and real religious convictions are very large. Simply put, sometimes to look into the temple and put out the candle is one thing, but to be an active member of a religious community (or at least to Church regularly, to confess, to keep all posts and other rites and regulations) is another.

In Islam the gap is much smaller in Judaism, Lutheran, old believers, or Catholicism - even less. About the numerous sects and say no.

Therefore, no survey data can not here to give an objective picture. A more accurate representation of the relationship, for example, Orthodoxy and Islam gives the number of parishes: the ROC of about 16 thousand, the Muslims have about 4 thousand. This is the ratio is 1:10 and 1:4.

And given the fact that the "quality" of the parish (the number of parishioners, attendance of churches, performing rituals and regulations, influence on believers) Muslims on average much higher than the Orthodox, it is safe to say that in Russia if Islam and inferior to Orthodoxy in the number of deep and sincere believers, that is not much, and certainly not in order.

And if to take into account the ratio of religion to the possibility of armed struggle, it is unlikely in the case of another "Holy war" (say more generally - of sectarian strife) Islam in the Russian Federation will be weaker than Orthodoxy.

Quite recently, less than a hundred years ago (and what a hundred years in world history, especially the history of religions!) Russia has been taught a harsh lesson on this subject.

Orthodoxy in the Russian Empire was not only the state religion, it was ruled directly by the state through state body - the Holy Synod. Accordingly, all other faiths and formally, and in fact was in the position of the oppressed "infidels" (it is an official term of the time). Historically, the most persecuted Jews with national consciousness, then, was inseparable from religious, and all special taxes, restrictions of civil rights, shameful "pale of settlement" and periodic pogroms were perceived not as a genocide of the Jewish people (Auschwitz and Treblinka then it yet), but as an unfair attitude of the Orthodox to "infidels".

The result is well known: in the early twentieth century, the backbone of all the most radical political parties was formed by Jews and other "infidels". Trotsky, Martov, blumkin, Kamenev, Dzerzhinsk, Uritskogo, Menzhinsky, Kaplan, Voikov, Zinoviev... the list is very long. Lenin said in the questionnaire as the "great Russian Orthodox religion", was the exception.

In the future fate of the Jewish people in the USSR is not the topic of this article. For us now essential that the bitter experience of the Russian Empire, the Soviet leaders, regardless of their nationality and faith, I realized that conflicts on religious grounds in huge multinational, multi-religious, as in the twenties of the twentieth century - and even highly unstable country can be avoided by not increasing one or another religion (or all religions at once), but the opposite - everything possible weakening them. In the result of the inherent radicalism of that time, all religions were not only weak, but actually destroyed.

We in any case not going to put this situation in the example of the leaders of modern Russia. From them only required to comply strictly with the requirement Art. 14 of the Russian Constitution on the separation of religious associations from the state, i.e. to conduct in respect of all religions are absolutely neutral policy. That said, the policy of "equidistance". And here the term is more just and necessary than for large business in connection with which he was once invented. And to support, Fund, advocate, or simply pay any attention to any one religion, and even all at once - is to ignore not only the Constitution but also the bitter lesson taught by Russia in 1917.

It is anticipated the question: why not support one religion over another - more or less clear (it is unethical, unfair and so on), but why not support all religions together? For example, the distribution of support in proportion to the number of believers, or the number of parishes, or even equally between the major faiths...

Yes, if religions live together in peace, it would be possible to support them and this way and that. But will not build illusions: peace between religions in General, and individual believers in particular is very fragile even in conditions of a stable society (and in Switzerland, and Germany, and in France periodically erupt religious conflicts), and any social instability exacerbates radical, fundamental religious differences. And many denominations, unfortunately, declaring the possibility of resolving these disputes not only in a peaceful way.

So it turns out that the state support one religion over another creates among others "deprived" - grievances against the state, and the fair and equitable support for all religious organizations strengthens them and pay their discontent to the side not of the state, and each other. Without discontent "rivals" so far no religion could not do, even if its leaders declare the opposite. So arranged our imperfect world, dominated by competition, which, in turn, is not always peaceful.

And the logical and objective result of any confessional discontent - sectarian strife. Their severity depends on many factors, but certainly something which, as destabilizing began in Russia today lacks. Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan... Should I continue this list?

As said in Shakespeare Polonium on hamlet, "this madness has its own system". In one of the "madness" of modern Russia is an open and very substantial material and moral state support of a number of religious organizations, primarily Orthodox Church - also, of course, has its own system there. The state needs an ideology, but in the absence of such, as they say, on plight is always light. But the religious organizations that offer not one, but several conflicting ideologies! That means we must either follow the path of least resistance and choose one over another (put Russia to the risk of repeating the catastrophe of 1917), or not choose any, and to develop their own, non-religious. The second way is more complicated, but he, unlike the first, will harden not undermine the unity of the country.

And now the ideology is not developed, it is just necessary to carry out the Constitution and abide in respect of religions principle of "equidistance". And if, for example, the President, the Prime Minister, the head of the region or any other high-ranking state official personally is a believer and belongs to one or another confession, he must visit the temple as a private person, not to stand on a special elevated and inclined to nod when the priest interrupts the service of God, to refer to the official in a speech of thanks or to give him any "Church order" or a diploma.

And the more the state should not do religious organizations such infinitely generous gift, as prepared by the Ministry of economic development and introduced in February 2010 the State Duma the draft law "On the transfer to religious organizations of religious property that is in state or municipal ownership".

This bill stipulates that religious organizations when they can be handed over to practically any movable and immovable property of religious purpose, being in state or municipal ownership.

And we are talking primarily about the monuments of architecture, history and culture (in the future will collectively call their monuments), which before the revolution were the property of the Russian Orthodox Church, and under the Soviet power were the national Museum treasure. This ancient temples with their interiors, and the so-called "non-core" objects (houses of the clergy, bakeries, Sunday school, monastic cells, and the like), and the relevant land, and icons, vestments and Church chandeliers and liturgical utensils... in short, everything from ancient cathedrals to icons of Andrei Rublev and Theophanes the Greek.

Other religions before the revolution, the property was much smaller, so the issues raised in this article, we will consider the example of the ROC, not forgetting that in respect of other religious organizations similar problems also exist.

We have mentioned that before the revolution the Russian Orthodox Church was in fact a public institution. Accordingly, all of its enormous property is a de facto government (at the beginning of 1920-ies greatly facilitated the Bolsheviks the issue of its nationalization). Now the situation is fundamentally different: the Church and formally, and in fact separated from the state, and prepared according to the bill turns out that the state passes a third party sites.

The draft law sets certain limits, the transfer time may vary from several months to several years, but eventually almost all the monuments in the ROC's desire to be transferred to her. Not pass them will not: p. 3 tbsp. 4 of the draft law States that "religious organisations receiving state or municipal property for religious purposes in gratuitous use, the right to receive the property ownership in the procedure established by this Federal law, in the provision to the authorized body the documents in accordance with a simplified list approved by the Government of the Russian Federation". And as some documents, especially on "simplification of the list", any organization will provide.

In principle, no one doubts that in the area of transfer of monuments ROC high time to restore order.

Monuments several decades passed the Church and the de jure and de facto, and this process lasts long train of scandals and conflicts (the most loud related to the monasteries - for example, Moscow Novodevichy, the Nikolo-Ugreshsk and Andronikova, Kostroma Ipatiev, Alexander Uspensky, Vladimir Knyaginin, which was given to the Bogoliubsk icon of the mother of God, and so on), but the total number of such conflicts already in the hundreds, if not thousands.

And deal with these conflicts, mainly at the local level depending on the subjective factor. Somewhere Museum workers was stronger (for example, the Moscow Kremlin), somewhere weaker (for example, Kostroma), somewhere achieved a fragile balance of forces and interests (for example, Vladimir), where the conflict is already lasts for years and not see him no end or edge (e.g., Alexandrov)...

Therefore, the law required. But whether this, the essence of which can be briefly expressed as to give to the Church, and immediately"?

In favor of the adoption introduced in the Duma of the bill and, accordingly, transfer of monuments ROC often heard this argument: Andrey Rublev wrote their masterpieces for the churches, and would be very upset to find that they are stored somewhere else.

It is possible to say, wrote their masterpieces Rublev for churches in General or for a particular priest, Abbot, or a Bishop, or simply out of love for art, we don't know, and not for us to judge about the motivation of creativity Rublev. Maybe he would have been delighted to learn that his icons declared a national heritage and are in museums, and that the descendants perceive it not as a craftsman, not as "employee of decorative-applied art", but as a great artist? You can only guess. And save his masterpieces is an undeniable problem.

You can hear another argument: the ROC is more zealous master sites than museums.

But at the level of declarations and reports of any master zealous, and his competitors unsustainable and destroying everything it touches. But indeed everything depends on local conditions, multiplied by the subjective factor.

Yes, there are some positive examples of how the parish really behaves like a serious and prudent landlord, without stopping the research. I remember the Church of the Transfiguration in the suburban village of the Island, the rector of which since 1992 is Archpriest Leonid (Griliches), concurrently head of the Department of biblical studies at Moscow theological Academy, teaching ancient languages, leading a seminar "Language of the Bible" at the philological faculty of Moscow state University who wrote the books of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, has issued a book of spiritual verses... But many in the Orthodox Church such priests as Leonid O.?

So let's not even try to analyze specific subjective examples (especially as more or less truthful statistics for them to collect impossible) and say: objective the objective of the Museum - preserve and study the monuments, and the objective task of the Church is to use the monuments for religious purposes. This in itself makes the removal of monuments, museums and the transfer of their Church business is very risky, in fact, puts the fate of the masterpieces of old Russian art in dependence on the personal qualities of leaders of the ROC. And to risk the monument is like risking human life as in the case of loss did not make any modern copy or a hoax.

There is one more "emotional" argument in favor of the transfer of monuments of the ROC, the essence of which is well expressed by the words from the song of Boris Grebenshchikov "Train on fire" (the beginning of the 1990-ies):

But the earth is in the rust

The Church mixed with ash,

And if we want to be, where to go,

Time to go home...

Yes, without emotion is impossible, especially when you remember that in the 1930-ies many, many temples or mixed with ash"or turned into ruins, or arrange them in institutions, warehouses, tractor stations... All this is true.

But in fact, already in post-Stalin times, the attitude to monuments have been the exception rather than the rule. Most often, if for some reason museums do not take them on their balance sheets, they are conserved and left to stand until better times. And there is no certainty that if the war is not isolated, and without exception, all the monuments were suddenly transferred to the Church, she would not have done as well. Of course, conservation is often performed badly and did not save the monuments, but, again, there is no certainty that the ROC would preservation better.

A good example is the unique Church of the beginning of XVI century Annunciation Pogost (now around the village. Timoshkino ginskyy, Vladimir region). It was pretty mediocre preserved even in the 1960-ies, and by the middle of 1990-ies already disqualified from roofs and deep cracks in all the walls. Money from bodies of protection of monuments it was not, and it passed the ROC. For many years she has formally prior, but her condition only deteriorated. The reason is the same - no money. And even collect them from the congregation does not work due to a negligible amount of them: in the village of Timoshkino - just a few houses, even to her year-round travel there.

So isn't it better to improve state funding of museums and preservation authorities than to follow the well-known vicious principle "to you, God, that we are worthless"?

Nobody objected to the ROC in the property were the temples, as before 1917. But before the revolution it on the monuments of architecture in General was very rare, and this notion does not entail that strict protection regime, which it carries in our time. Therefore in modern Russia a return to the pre-revolutionary practice is possible only in one way: let the Church building new temples, and not take a state monuments.

And we must pay tribute to the Church: she is very actively builds temples (though quite dubious architectural qualities), and believers is much easier than in the monuments: spacious, light, heat, all in accordance with current building regulations... And from the canonical point of view Liturgy in the assumption Cathedral, Aristotle Fioravanti, and in any modern "remake", and adapted as a temple railroad car is absolutely equivalent, if the consecration was conducted properly.

The same with the icons. For copies of ancient icons can kiss, you can put around it to light candles and lamps: when necessary it is easy to rewrite or replaced. And from the canonical point of view, the icons are no "degrees of Holiness": any proper sanctification equal, and any purchased in the Church cheap icon reproducing the "Trinity" Rublev, has the same "Holiness"as the original.

Therefore, without reference to the monuments of the ROC, as they say, will not disappear.

Yes, to serve the Liturgy in prayerful ancient temple with ancient frescoes, or "kiss" a masterpiece of Theophanes the Greek, of course, pleased, no doubt. But then civil self-consciousness, in order to sacrifice their personal desires for the sake of preservation of monuments. Otherwise priests and believers will attain to the First Secretary of the Leningrad regional Committee of the CPSU Grigory Romanov, which, according to rumors, in the late 1970's he married the daughter and told him on the wedding table to put Catherine porcelain from the Hermitage collection. How much of this porcelain smashed "for luck" drunken guests may only guess.

Someone can say that it's just not fair, first in the 1920-ies the Church property confiscated, and now do not want to return. But on this subject reminds an old joke: Russian Federation to sue the Mongolian people's Republic with the requirement to return the tribute paid during the Mongol yoke. And everyone understands that this is a joke, as and Mongolia, and Russia has long been those that were at the time of Batu Khan. Now, and the ROC is certainly not what it was before 1917. And its status in another state, and the state itself is different, and other times. In the world history in a single river, cannot step twice.

Let us call things by their proper names: the actual transfer of monuments ROC is restitution, disguising the fact that one must somewhere and something to serve God. But this fact is one step to restitution in respect of the Romanovs, Golitsyn, Obolensky, the Sheremetevs, Lianozovo, Mammoth and other large owners who lost their property in the revolution. And it can cover the same argument: it somewhere and something to live the descendants of "those" Romanov and Lianozovo! So far you can go.

And do not provoke the adoption of the bill on the transfer of property to religious organizations, mass redistribution of property in the country? Few, perhaps, Russia's global challenges, we must artificially create another?

It was yet another addition to the principal arguments against more religious organizations, which we cited at the beginning of this article. Here's another thing: the property ROC after the transfer of monuments (together with the land plots!) becomes comparable to the property, for example, Gazprom, and the Church will be able to significantly influence the economy, and thus on the state policy. And because the effects of religion is akin to ideological, not do we get new Communist party - though not in the form of party agitators in gray suits, and the hierarchs in gold-embroidered vestments? And how would react to this other faiths? Again have to remember about the bitter lesson of 1917...

In non-transfer of monuments to the ownership of religious organizations have and the legal side. Article 234 of the Civil Code States: "the Person - the citizen or legal person who is not the owner of the property, but in good faith, openly, and uninterruptedly as owning its own immovable property for fifteen years or other property for five years, shall acquire the right of ownership of this property (acquisitive prescription)". So, by the end of the 1930-ies the state in the person of museums received a "prescription" for all the monuments. And even if we assume that the USSR possessed monuments in bad faith (selected by the Church), then from 1991 - education of the Russian Federation as an independent state "prescription" too long come.

Remember and Art. 9 "Fundamentals of legislation on culture": "human Rights in the field of cultural activities priority over the rights of the state and all its bodies, public and national movements, political parties, ethnic groups, religious groups and religious organizations, professional and other associations.

And the Law On the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation and museums in the Russian Federation" States that "the Museum collection is indivisible" (item 15)...

Not too many basic legislation crosses made in the Duma a bill on the transfer of property to religious organizations?

In fairness, we note that the practice of transfer of monuments to private property subject to security regimes prevalent in all civilized countries. But in both conditions are very different, and the control of another, and traditions, and social responsibility of the owners... In Russia, yet we see that a private owner, receiving a monument gets a lot of problems (shall provide access of visitors, hold not just the repairs, and the scientific restoration, nothing to remake, without the permission of the conservation authority and the like), but does not receive the most important: honor and respect for the fact that stores the monument. So often, there are ugly situation where the monument is easier and cheaper to destroy (or replace a hoax), than to keep.

It is safe to say, if the Church could somehow "digest" single monuments, passed to it for many years, that if these monuments after the adoption of the bill will go to her, a wide flow, it's not cope. In fact, the ROC would have to assume all the functions of museums, until security in the temples of the temperature and humidity conditions. Is it ready for this? Whether it qualified specialists, appropriate equipment, and just money? Of course not.

In theory, the Church can not take away from museums, monuments, will see if that fails. But it is in theory. But in practice - how to opt out of such incredibly generous gift, and even with the land?

And it is not necessary to be a prophet to predict that the ROC will soon all that is, and then will try to "wiggle". But if the "wiggle" it does not work, then the price will be destroyed monuments. We have said that this amounts ruined human lives. Therefore, the experiments here is inappropriate.

For all of the above serves to reject submitted to the State Duma the draft law "On the transfer to religious organizations of religious property that is in state or municipal ownership" and to introduce legislative moratorium on further transfer of monuments to the ownership of religious organizations. For a period of at least 10 years.

During this time, the preservation authorities should monitor everything that has been transferred, to collect the necessary statistics and to provide legislators with an objective report. And when you receive a clear picture of the condition of the previously allocated sites, to decide the fate of future property relations between the state and religious organizations can be much more objectively and optimally.

In respect of priceless irreplaceable monuments price of any mistake is too high. The same can be said about the price of any mistakes in the relationship of the state with religious organizations in a huge multi-confessional country.


Moscow, 2010.


© Sergey Zagraevsky

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