St. Petersburg diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church said on Thursday it had filed a petition for handing to it on the terms of gratuity the city’s landmark cathedral of St. Isaac, which is currently a monument and a museum, Natalya Rodomanova, a spokeswoman for the diocesal information department told TASS.
"It’s true that the diocese sent out a petition for a free rent of the building as stipulated by legislation," she said.
Somewhat earlier, the director of St. Isaac’s Cathedral museum, Nikolay Burov told TASS he was unaware of the clerics’ request. "I’m on vacation now and I am not familiar with this situation."
In the meantime, officials at the press service of the St. Petersburg Committee for Ownership Relations, which typically handles requests related to the transfers of religious facilities, told TASS they had not received any petitions from the diocese.
"If we get it, we’ll consider it as required by procedure," an official said.
On Thursday, the deputy of the St. Petersburg legislative assembly Maxim Reznik, who chairs the legislature’s commission for culture, said he had received information on a petition filed by the Russian Orthodox Church "from the sources well-familiar with the situation.
"I can’t disclose these sources at the moment but I’m trying to glean more detains myself," he said. "There should be a petition signed by Metropolitan Barsanuphius, the ruling hierarch of the diocese, who addressed it to the Governor or government of the city asking them to hand the St. Isaac’s cathedral over to the ownership of the Church."
At present, the cathedral is owned by the city and is part of a state museum monument along with the Church of the Savior on Blood, St. Sampson’s and Smolny Cathedrals. The city authorities are already considering a handover of the Smolny cathedral to the Church.
Services in St. Isaac’s cathedral resumed in 1990, after an interval of 59 years.