In 2001 Moscow spent 64 million rubles ($2.1 million) on restoration of the city's churches. In 1999, during preparations for the 2000th anniversary of Christianity, the total expenditure on restoration from state and private sources in Russia was six times as high. Restoration work on St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square is expected to cost the federal budget 100 million rubles ($3.2 million).
Over the last decade Sergei Sitnikov, general manager of Tsar Pushka, a Moscow restoration company, has restored cupolas or iconostases of 20 Orthodox monasteries and churches in and outside the capital. He remembers better times, in the middle of the 1990s, when Russians rushed back into religion. The number of churches was small then and, strange though it may sound, that was more lucrative for restorers: "Parish incomes were almost three times higher at the time," said Sitnikov's colleague, Arkady Sazonov. "Then, they sold a candle for 2-3 rubles and had some 300 visitors a day," he said, estimating an average church's monthly revenue to be about $7,500 at that time. "Before, there was just one church per region, where [people] from half of Moscow used to go. Now they put up a cross, they find a priest, old women gather, and everybody comes to pray. The number of parishes has grown. The amount of money [that churches can spend on reconstruction] has decreased."
Edited excerpt reprinted with permission from The Russia Journal, 16 August 2002.
Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.
© 2003 East-West Church and Ministry Report