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Church Seeks to Restrict Access to Solovki

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/church-seeks-to-restrict-access-to-solovki/474921.html Church Seeks to Restrict Access to Solovki 01 February 2013 |
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2013
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      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/church-seeks-to-restrict-access-to-solovki/474921.html

      Church Seeks to Restrict Access to Solovki
      01 February 2013 | Issue 5059
      By Roland Oliphant

      Read more:
      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/church-seeks-to-restrict-access-to-solovki/474921.html#ixzz2JlAWBQS1
      The Moscow Times

      Access to the Solovetsky islands, home to one of Russia's most important
      monasteries, could be restricted in a bid to preserve the archipelago's
      "special way of life," a top ranking clergyman said.

      Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said Thursday that
      the Solovetsky islands in the White Sea and the Valaam islands in Lake
      Ladoga — both home to historic monasteries — were among several sites
      the church is pushing to reclassify as "religious-historical places."

      "We are currently very carefully working in connection with the topic of
      Solovki; there is an idea to develop a full federal program. Meetings
      about this question are taking place practically every week, the
      questions under discussion are not simple," he told Interfax on Thursday.

      In order to give Solovki, Valaam and other historic sites protected
      status, serious changes to the law are necessary, he said. The
      government's understanding of this is growing, he added.

      "Places like Solovki, Valaam and several other monasteries are special
      places connected with traditional non-christian religions — it's not
      just the buildings and the land, it is a place where there is a special
      way of life, and this way of life is incompatible with mass tourism,
      building of entertainment and attractions, or noisy political or mass
      cultural events," he said.

      Chaplin stressed that places like Solovki should remain open to both
      pilgrims and tourists, provided they "respect the internal atmosphere
      and special way of life — or they will simply be lost."

      The monastery at Solovki, a world heritage site, was founded in the 15th
      century, and grew to become one of the richest and most prestigious
      religious centers in the Russian empire.

      For 16 years in the 1920s and 1930s it served as a prison for political
      undesirables — becoming the model for the Gulag system of prison camps.

      The monastery was restored to the Church in the early 1990s, and the
      islands have become and increasingly popular place of pilgrimage and
      secular tourism since the monastery was reopened. Today about 30,000 to
      40,000 thousand tourists visit the islands each year.

      Read more:
      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/church-seeks-to-restrict-access-to-solovki/474921.html#ixzz2JlAeQzPy
      The Moscow Times
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