Staunton, Dec. 16 – The Soviet authorities were notorious for the closing of Orthodox churches, with many simply being torn down and others put to non-religious use. Before they came to power, there were more than 54,000 such facilities in the Russian Empire; but by 1985, the number of churches had been reduced to only 6893.
Given that there has been a much-ballyhooed program of state support for building new Orthodox churches, most people assume the destruction of churches has stopped. But that is not the case, and the authorities have connived with developers to destroy churches especially in Moscow where the land on which they sit is especially valuable (newizv.ru/news/city/16-12-2022/ischezayuschaya-istoriya-zachem-pravoslavnye-vlasti-snosyat-starinnye-hramy).
Religious Russians and historical preservationists have protested but without particular success or indeed any serious official response, although their actions are now calling attention to what is becoming an ever larger problem (archnadzor.ru/2021/08/16/net-snosu-hramov-otkryitoe-pismo-meru/).
Maria Korobova of the Arkhnadzor historical preservation group says the problem is getting worse because “since 2013, there has been an unspoken order” from above “not to include Orthodox churches in the register of cultural heritage objects” protected from demolition. As a result, developers are having a field day.
Novyye izvestiya has posted online a map of Moscow showing where some of these are (google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?ll=55.773251836140496%2C37.604948942462876&z=12&mid=1LLRgqYWIR3eUwzPQ4esg37bTJ-4jNdQ) and expresses the hope that their fate “will be happier than the fate of others which have been torn down” not by the Soviets but by the supposedly religion-friendly Russian government.