An old temple for the price of a barn: how a cultural heritage facility was sold for a pittance

An old temple for the price of a barn: how a cultural heritage facility was sold for a pittance
An old temple for the price of a barn: how a cultural heritage facility was sold for a pittance
25 December 2020, 14:36Culture
An almost detective story took place in the Tula region. The cultural heritage site of regional significance, the temple of Dmitry Thessaloniki, which since 1969 has been formally under state protection, was sold for the debts of its owner after being announced on Avito.

Irina Mishina

The temple and the land plot with a total area of 166.2 square meters were sold for 186,300 rubles. This became known from the minutes of the auction, which appeared on the website of the federal bankruptcy register. Initially, on the Avito website, they asked 450 thousand rubles for a church with a land plot. In fact, for a song, a cultural heritage site of regional significance, together with a land plot, was bought by a Muscovite Pavel Osipov. What the new owner is going to do with the temple is not yet known. The Ministry of Culture of the Tula Region and the Belevsk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church are carefully preparing for negotiations with him.

...The village with the symbolic name Zavalovo is located 70 versts from Tula. This name derives, firstly, from the location: the village is surrounded on all sides by mountains and hillocks and, as it were, fell behind them. Now there are only 2-3 crumbling courtyards and a church, which is actually a ruin.

The Temple of Demetrius Thessaloniki was built in the middle of the 19th century. Until 1852 there was just a belfry on pillars, and in 1852 a stone bell tower was built at the expense of a local landowner, and then a side-altar. After the October Revolution, services in the church ceased, and it suffered the sad fate of a warehouse under the village council. You will be very surprised, but the temple has retained almost the same status to this day. In the state register of real estate, it is listed as "property of an agricultural cooperative." Since the time of construction, the hand of a builder or restorer has not touched the temple of Dmitry Solunsky.

От колокольни культурного объекта регионального значения остался только остов.

But the temple did not go unnoticed. The land plot together with the temple was acquired in 2012 by an enterprising resident of Tula, Natalya Igorevna Kupryukhina, who until recently was listed in the Unified Register of Legal Entities as the owner of the private security organization Mir. In the profile of "Natalie Kupryukhina" in the social network VKontakte it is written: "Hometown: Courchevel. Lives in: Russia, Tula. Political preferences: liberal. Religious Views: Christianity". Funny cocktail, isn't it?

But the entrepreneur from Natalia Igorevna, apparently, did not work out. On December 2 last year, a judicial act was drawn up to seize her property as a bankrupt. The auction for the sale of the property of the unlucky inhabitant of Tula and Courchevel was announced on July 7 this year. “Lot number 1” read: “A cultural heritage site of regional significance“ Former Assumption Church ”- building, area: 166.5 sq.m, address: Tula region, Odoevsky district, s. Zavalovo. Land plot, use: for placement of warehouses, area: 1345 sq.m". Trading ended the other day. So the object of cultural heritage of regional significance went under the hammer.

The scandal began with the Tserkvach telegram channel, which posted a message about the sale of a church with a land plot. This announcement attracted the interest of social networks, first surprised, and then indignant re-posts began. For the first time in its existence, a photo of the temple appeared in the media. After the auction and purchase of a cultural heritage site of regional significance, there were even emergency messages from TASS and RIA Novosti. The law of our life: to talk about you, you have to become the object of a scandal.

But if not for this scandal, neither the Ministry of Culture of the Tula Region, nor the Belevsk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor the Federal Ministry of Culture, nor the Moscow Patriarchate would have paid attention to the 19th century church. However, federal structures did not express any particular indignation about the incident. The press service of the Ministry of Culture "NI" dryly informed that this issue is under the jurisdiction of the regional authorities, since it is about a cultural heritage site of regional significance. “Contact the regional structures,” the Ministry of Culture distanced themselves with an intonation, as if they were talking about some Zanzibar. The office of the Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and the Mass Media of the Moscow Patriarchate dryly informed that the question about the fate of the ancient Orthodox church in the Tula Region would be answered “in 30 days in the manner prescribed by law”. Well, we'll wait.

How did all this turn out in our church-going Russia, where new Orthodox churches appear like mushrooms after rain? In Moscow alone, despite the pandemic, the construction of 18 Orthodox churches was completed in 2020. "Half of them have already been commissioned," the press service of State Duma deputy Vladimir Resin, the curator of the program for the construction of Orthodox churches in Moscow, reports , as from the construction of a high-rise building. - And we started in 2020 the construction of at least 10-12 facilities throughout Moscow!".

The plans are enormous, the scope is the same as in the infill development of an elite quarter. Not to the abandoned village temple here.

How did it happen that a cultural monument, a security object, albeit of regional significance, suddenly became unnecessary for anyone, except for the hitherto unknown Muscovite Pavel Osipov?

“There really is a problem, the other day we went to the object of cultural heritage of regional significance“ Assumption Church ”. The condition of the object is certainly not satisfactory. But understand, from the point of view of the law, the preservation of a cultural heritage object is entrusted to its owner. Prior to this, the owner, represented by Natalia Kupryukhina, was not wealthy, could not maintain the temple in the proper form. But if you look back, there was no parish in this church for a long time and now it is not, the church is not active. For many years, since the establishment of Soviet power, the church was not in demand as an object of religious significance; in the state register of real estate it is designated as the premises of an agricultural cooperative. As it turned out, there was a warehouse there until 2012, then they bought a church with land and did nothing to restore it. As for the reconstruction, we always respond to signals from the field, but no one from the village of Zavalovo told us anything, and there was almost no one left there, 2-3 courtyards with old people", - the head of the Tula Region State Protection Inspectorate told Novye Izvestia cultural heritage sites Dmitry Boychenko.

Okay, let's say. The Inspectorate missed the regional cultural heritage site due to “lack of signals from the field”. Although the task and purpose of this inspection is to identify and protect such monuments on the not-so-large territory of the Tula region. I suspect that there are not so many regional cultural heritage sites in the entire province that everyone's hands are not reached.

Well, what about the Belevskaya Diocese? Why didn't you keep track of the church?

Only after reports of the sale of the temple on the Internet, the Belevsk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church began to check. "The legality of what is happening is being checked, that is, the very possibility of putting up an architectural monument for sale, even if the land on which it is located is privately owned", - said the head of the information department of the diocese, priest Andrey Bukhtoyarov. He added that the possibility of transferring the building of the temple to the ownership of the ROC is also being considered.

“According to Federal law-327, religious organizations can be transferred to property of religious significance, which is in state or municipal ownership. And here - the owner with a plot of land on which the temple stands. As soon as we learned that the temple was for sale on Avito, we started working. First you need to contact the owner. There are laws on the protection of monuments, there are obligations for their maintenance, the owner must comply with them. Now the Ministry of Culture of the Tula Region is going to negotiate with the owner. As soon as there is clarity, we, for our part, will connect. In the future, we see the temple functioning", - Priest Andrey Bukhtoyarov told Novye Izvestia.

We took the risk of asking our interlocutors just one question: what if the new owner does not have enough money for decent maintenance and reconstruction of the church? So will the regional authorities and the local diocese hide behind laws on the protection of private property? But what if the new owner turns out to be smarter than the previous one - a "native of Courchevel" Natalia Kupryukhina? What if he acquired a temple with land for a reason, but hoping that the state and the non-poverty-stricken ROC would not remain aloof from the fate of the regional cultural heritage site and help with money?

“We are now organizing conservation work. Restoration is a complex problem; it is a complex of works to restore objects of historical and cultural value. First you need a reconstruction project. But again, the question is about financing. All this will be legally entrusted to the copyright holder”, - said Dmitry Boychenko, head of the Tula Region Inspectorate for State Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites .

While the Belevskaya diocese, the Ministry of Culture of the Tula province and other regional structures are thinking how to force the new owner to fork out, perhaps the owner himself is hatching no less ambitious plans. It will be sad if everything again ends in a dispute about who should save the monument. In an amicable way, everyone who cares about our history, not counting money, should save him. If this had happened earlier, the temple would have been more intact and, perhaps, in the local village there would not have been only 2-3 courtyards with old people, but this place would have become a cultural center, an object of tourists' attention. One could even arrange a hotel with a restaurant on the occasion... Well, why not revive in this way one of the wonderful, but abandoned corners of the Russian hinterland?

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