Plan to return Church property sparks row in Russian Public Chamber

Moscow, October 1, 2010

Members of the Russian Public Chamber have clashed over a bill on the return of Church property seized during the Soviet era, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, approved the bill in its first reading in late September.

However, the Public Chamber's culture commission criticized the bill in a subsequent report, questioning its practicability and suggesting it contradicted "a range of principles stipulated in the Russian Constitution and international laws," the business daily Kommersant said.

The report also expressed concern that handing seized property back to religious institutions would make it make it difficult, if not impossible, for people of different faiths to gain access to the objects.

"Many objects of cultural heritage cannot be used in religious ceremonies without being damaged," the report also said.

The authors of the report have proposed that experts should be consulted before a decision is taken to hand an object back, Kommersant said.

Other members of the Public Chamber, including senior religious figures, said they would challenge the report.

The Public Chamber is to vote on the report before it goes to parliament for consideration, the paper said.

RIA Novosti

2 октября 2010 г.

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