An end to the church conflict in Yekaterinburg?
A solution has emerged to the conflict over the construction of a cathedral in a park in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. In the wake of ongoing protests another location has been found for the church. According to a survey by the state polling institute VZIOM, roughly three-quarters of the city's residents feel that the park in the centre of town is not the right place for the house of prayer. The Kremlin had also weighed in on the issue.
Stubborn protest pays off
Popular blogger Ilya Varlamov congratulates the citizens of Yekaterinburg on their victory:
“They have set an example for all Russia regarding how to protect your city and your rights. ... But the Moscow propagandists who told the protesters they were behaving like minors in the Maidan protests, capsizing the boat at Washington's behest, also played a significant role in the protests. ... These protests were not so much about the church but about sending a message that the public opinion must be respected. Because people are not animals whose views can be treated like toilet paper. I believe that it is now clearer why we must be politically active and why protest is absolutely the right way to engage in dialogue with the state.”
Why the state is backing down
Radio Kommersant FM believes the Kremlin wanted to prevent the politicisation of the conflict:
“So far the formula has been: the state is always right. It is concerned about the people, does all kinds of good things for them, and in this case it wanted to build a church. And those who oppose this are provocateurs from abroad and US agents. ... But now the problem has had to be resolved at the operative level to prevent the conflict from spreading and to avoid all kinds of unwanted conversations about referendums at the central headquarters, as well as a confrontation between so-called patriots and so-called liberals. In other words: they wanted to avoid the conflict being fought out at the political level.”
Citizens taking action because politicians don't listen
Gazeta.ru sees in this and similar conflicts a re-politicisation of the otherwise so unpolitical daily life in Russia.
“Politics can manifest itself in all sorts of ways. The construction of a factory that seems suspect to citizens from an environmental point of view (as in the region of Voronezh). Or a new landfill that is elegantly called a 'eco-techno park' (as in the Arkhangelsk region). The construction of church or a mosque or a laundromat for homeless people can be a reason to take to streets. And each time this is a political act, even if most of those involved say that they don't want 'politicisation' and they are only interested in this specific issue. But in general this is happening because of a lack of trust in politicians - both those in power and the opposition”
Greedy Church fuels people's hatred
The Russian Orthodox Church wants to rebuild the cathedral in order to replace churches that were destroyed by the Bolsheviks. But the people are not falling for this argument, Boris Vishnevsky, an opposition politician in St. Petersburg, is pleased to announce in Ekho Moskvy:
“The people's fight against the greed of the clergy who are striving to 'give back' to themselves things that never belonged to them, and in the process to relocate state museums and to secure prime real estate for themselves, against the will of society and in the shameless conviction that everyone owes them something - this is not a fight against Orthodoxy. It is simply about the greed of the clergy.”