site.btaUPDATED People Gather in Front of Sofia’s Russian Church to Demand Its Reopening Following Expulsion of Russian, Belarusian Clergymen
Citizens gathered here on Sunday in front of the Church of St. Nicholas of Myra, known as the Russian Church, which was closed after the expulsion of its rector and two Belarusian priests. The people lit candles and left flowers at the entrance of the church, demanding that it is reopened.
Traffic along Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard was blocked.
Representatives of political parties joined the people in front of the church, including Kostadin Kostadinov and Delyan Nikolov from Vazrazhdane, Volen Siderov from Ataka and Simeon Slavchev from the MIR party.
The Metropolitan of Ruse, Naum, said that the St. Nicholas of Myra Church is property of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. “We believe that locking it by third parties is unacceptable and the Metropolitan of Sofia should immediately order the church reopened and have services reinstated,” Metropolitan Naum wrote on Facebook. He gave a detailed history of the church and explained that in recent years, the Bulgarian priests were consistently removed from the church, which is absurd, given the fact that its functions are only of a representative nature. The church is not Russian property either, he argued.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) quoted its MP Delyan Peevski in a press release as calling on the Metropolitan of Sofia to start once again services at the church. "As representatives of the secular power, we can only offer our support to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and its followers which is why on Monday we will undertake the necessary legislative changes, with which the State will increase its subsidy so that the church can be maintained. The rest falls within the canonical powers of the Metropolitan of Sofia, in whose work we cannot intervene, but we believe that the church will be opened for believers," the MRF MP is quoted as saying.