Moscow, February 25, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has confirmed the installation of monitoring cameras in Russian churches assuring that the measure will not violate the personal space of the worshippers.
"In line with a government resolution monitoring cameras are installed with due account for the internal regulations of a religious organization. Namely, monitoring cameras shall not be installed in confessionals or altars. As for the other space, many churches installed monitoring cameras a long time ago to prevent the theft of church property as well as the personal belongings of parishioners among other purposes," head of the legal department of the Moscow Patriarchate Hegumenia Xenia (Chernega) said to Interfax on Tuesday.
She said the resolution permits the substitution of video monitoring with periodic examinations. This applies to the dormitories of monasteries and convents and other premises access to which is restricted by the internal regulations of religious organizations.
In addition, a joint commission led by the ruling hierarch or a person authorized by him has the right to decide on the inexpediency of the installation of a system of video monitoring if at a site of the Russian Orthodox Church church services, other religious rites and ceremonies or pilgrimages are not conducted regularly (less than once a week).
"By the way, the monitoring cameras can be switched off which is well known even to children," the representative of the Patriarchate said. She said that under a decision of the hierarch cameras can be turned off during such personal rites as baptism, wedding and funeral because the government resolution is meant for cases of public church services and other public religious rites.
Last week several Telegram channels reported that monitoring cameras are installed at all church sites. They said the Tula Diocese will be a pilot project in this respect with cameras being installed even in remote village churches.
However, Hegumenia Xenia said, "there are no pilot projects" in implementing the government resolution on requirements to the antiterrorist protection of sites (territories) of religious organizations dated September 5, 2019 #1165. She also said that the installation of cameras is implied only for sites with a capacity of 500 worshippers and more. "The information stated by the said Telegram channels is not true and is of speculative nature," she said.