On Wednesday, Xenia and Nikita Krivoshein, acting as spokesmen for the Russian émigré community in France, told Interfax-Religion that the Russian government finally ended its legal battle concerning the property of St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice, stating, “On 10 April 2013, the Court of Cassation, the highest legal organ of the French Republic, announced that it completely rejected the complaint of the Russian Orthodox Religious Association (ACOR) of Nice (which claimed the cathedral: Interfax)”. Thus, the court ruled that the Russian state is now unequivocally the legal owner of St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice, “the law and simple good-sense prevailed over sectarianism and denial of reality”.
In 1923, ACOR leased the church for 99 years, and, in 1931, it passed into the jurisdiction of the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople). On 19 May 2011, a French court confirmed that the Russian state had legal ownership of the church property in Nice. Then, the Russian government decided to hand over the property to MP Diocese of Korsun for its free and unlimited use. However, the Council of the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe continued to consider itself the lawful possessor of the cathedral. In December 2011, Sergei Bolkhovitin, a mid-level official of the Russian Presidential Administration, handed over the keys of the cathedral in Nice to its new rector, Archpriest Nikolai Ozolin.
Today’s decision by the Court of Cassation in France marks the end of the long litigation over the legal ownership of the Russian cathedral in Nice. Now, members of the Russian émigré community hope that the Russian government will move on its claim to other major church buildings erected in Europe by the Russian Empire. Nikita Krivoshein noted, “Most of them are in poor condition and falling apart due to the poor maintenance done by their present temporary users. One can only hope that the decision concerning Nice will serve as a precedent for the resolution of similar situations in Paris, Biarritz, and other cities”. He emphasised that this year’s Holy Week services “at the Russian cathedral in Nice won’t be overshadowed by any external factors”.
St Nicholas Cathedral is one of the most visited historical attractions on the Côte d’Azur. Built in the early 20th century, the French state added it to its list of protected architectural monuments in 1987. Beginning of restoration work on the building will begin this year, financed by the Russian state and private sponsors. At present, it’s anticipated that the work will take two years to complete.
10 April 2013
When the Parisian modernists lost the court battle over St Nick’s, it was their death sentence. The funds raised from entrance fees to the church were the backbone of the Parisian budget. Frankly, the Phanar may give the Exarchate parishes a choice… go under Moscow, go under the Greek bishop for their area, or go vagante. Remember, the Phanar rejected all the proposed successors to Gabriel de Vylder. In short, even the EP sees that the Parisian Russians are a bad bet, a rum lot, and “dead men walking”.
SVS kissed the arse of the Parisians since the time of the Schmemann-Meyendorff duopoly. Now, there are noises that SVS wants to go EP if the OCA goes under. If they do, they won’t have the independence that they’ve enjoyed up to now (let’s be frank… ADS & Co took advantage of the spineless-jellyfish poofter weakling Feodosy). The Phanar would make them toe the EP party-line unreservedly and without complaint, and that’s that. Just sayin’… do pass the popcorn, the show isn’t completely over, yet… Rue Daru IS next, after all…