Sergei Gavrilov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Property, Land and Property Relations, said that he had initiated two bills aimed at protecting the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional confessions in ensuring their property and land rights, reports TASS. One of bills has already been submitted to the State Duma for consideration – it proposes to ban the privatization of property for religious purposes.
Mr. Gavrilov clarified that the property of religious significance includes not only temples, but also objects important for worship, such as icons.
“Our bill will stop the ongoing process of illegal seizure and quasi-legal transfer of such objects to private owners and stop their use for non-religious purposes, for example, to open shops, pubs or entertainment centers in temple complexes. This practice offends the feelings of believers. It is necessary to guarantee that the church retains the intended use of these objects,” the deputy said.
The second bill, not yet promulgated, should ensure the protection of the land interests of religious organizations in national parks and reserves, where it is impossible to register private ownership of the site. To solve this problem, the deputies propose to assign a land plot to the temples for a period of 49 years with the possibility of extending the agreement.
According to Mr. Gavrilov, churches can function as social centers to help orphans, large families and veterans of the military operation.