Saint Sophia Cathedral Under Threat in Kyiv
On Tuesday, workers at the National Sanctuary Sophia of Kyiv spent their lunch break in the temple’s square talking with reporters.
The workers are worried about the forthcoming transfer of Sophia’s architectural monuments from the Ministry of Regional Development to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, outlined in the draft presidential decree.
[Olga Samoilenko, Chief Architect, St. Sophia Cathedral]:
„We fear that the museum will be closed; we worry about whether there will be enough attention paid to the restoration and whether there will be enough money from the ministry to carry out such work, which we’ve been doing.“
Advocates of one of the most ancient Christian churches say the transfer can lead to a change of sanctuary management, and with it, irreversible consequences for Sophia, much like the ruin of the shrine Kyiv Pechersk Lavra in the past.
[Oleksandr Bryhynets, Head of Kyiv City Council, Cultural Affairs]:
„We know the experience of Lavra, after passing it to the state, we immediately saw closures of the museums, art studios and settlements of clergymen – this is the problem. And we fear that it might happen now.“
[Sergei Krolevets, Former Director, Reserve of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra]:
„Those officials, who were supposed to protect the monuments on the territory of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, began to act in a corrupt way, selling to indulge themselves, granting planning permissions and consenting to demolition, restoration, and restructuring.“
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism say unified leadership for Sophia and Lavra is a UNESCO requirement, and claim they are better able to professionally manage museum funds, compared to other ministry departments.
Sofia is under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate.
Sanctuary staff fear that the church of Moscow will begin to hold regular worship in the ancient shrine, while at the moment there is almost no worshipping.
[Anna Varavva, NTD Correspondent]:
„Sophia Cathedral has Europe’s largest complex of mosaics and frescoes of 11 centuries. Today, employees of the sanctuary warn that if the church ministers, it will seriously damage the ancient original paintings.“
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of the President Administration, Anna Herman is denying the transfer of St. Sophia Cathedral.
And, the presidential decree on the future of Sophia is yet to be signed.
NTD News, Kyiv, Ukraine.