Moscow, March 15, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has written to Vadim Yakovenko, the head of the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo), asking him to transfer Moscow's Spaso-Andronikov Monastery to the Russian Orthodox Church, Sergey Karnaukhov, the head of the movement for the monastery's revival, told Interfax on Friday.
"The patriarch signed a letter on the transfer to church of the buildings of the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery. It is not a request. Under the law, this letter is enough for the transfer of the monastery to Church," Karnaukhov said.
Karnaukhov said "the patriarch's decision is not so much religious as socio-cultural, because it saves this place from degradation."
The Culture Ministry has already approved a conception that was supposed to turn the entire Spaso-Andronikov Monastery quarter into a unified exhibition tourist-recreational complex with restaurants, passes and galleries, and therefore the decision on the transfer of the monastery to church is a very timely one, he said.
The Museum of Andrey Rublev which is situated in the monastery also needs to develop, the activist said. "The entire exhibition complex of the museum is stuffed near the Church of Archangel Michael. Don't we have enough space in Moscow for the exposition? Eight thousand artifacts that have never been taken out in 70 years!" Karnaukhov said.
He also mentioned abandoned buildings located near the monastery, "deteriorating and falling apart: the culture palace Serp i Molot, two huge buildings of the Khryashchevs estate, which the museum has already received."
The head of the movement for the revival of the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery believes that "today it is necessary to find a compromise and go back to the decision of 1994," which was signed by then-prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, on the revival of the monastery and the development of the museum as a central center for scientific research of Orthodox culture and art.
"It is important to us that the museum's administration now looks for a compromise and a system to harmonize relations with church and not be an enemy, it's not the Soviet times! The museum could use the support of a guardian council for the revival of the monastery and resolve very many issues," Karnaukhov said.
Technical issues associated with the upcoming move, which he believes may last several years, are not currently being settled, he said.
When asked whether the repair work will continue on the territory of the monastery, Karnaukhov said that "these are background matters, they are not important for the essence of the issue."
The Russian Orthodox Church confirmed to Interfax that the patriarch has sent a letter to Rosimushchestvo. This deals with the transfer to the Church of such federal status objects of cultural heritage as the 15th century Spassky Cathedral, the 16th century dining chamber, a brethren's building and the 17th century father superior's chamber, the 17th century Church of Archangel Michael, etc.
The Spaso-Andronikov Monastery is where reverend Andrey Rublev was tonsured and lived as a monk. A fragment of his paintings has been preserved in the altar of the Spassky Cathedral, one of the oldest Moscow churches outside the Kremlin.
The Spaso-Andronikov Monastery was the location for Muscovites' meeting Dmitry Donskoy's troops after the victory in the Kulikovo field. Among those buried there are the heroes of the Kulikovo field, the Great Northern and Seven Years' War, the 1812 war, Moscow city heads, and members of the Volkonsky, Trubetskiye, Suvorov, Musin-Pushkin, Rimsky-Korsakov and other prominent dynasties.