© Georgi Kozhuharov
The photo is archival
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Believers and representatives of pro-Russian parties gathered in front of the Russian Church “St. Nikolai Mirlikiskii Chudtovorets” in the center of Sofia, which was closed by the Russian authorities after the expulsion of its head and two Belarusian priests, BTA reported.
It is stated that candles were lit and flowers were left in front of the temple entrance and it was requested that the church be opened.
Traffic on Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. was blocked.
The Russian church in Sofia closes, Moscow calls the Bulgarian ambassador
Among the party representatives were the leader of “Vazrazhdane” Kostadin Kostadinov and the party’s candidate for mayor of Sofia Deyan Nikolov, Volen Siderov from “Ataka” and Simeon Slavchev from the MIR party, all three of which are openly pro-Russian formations. The well-known Evgeniy Minchev, who is currently working as a publicist, was also present.
A man in priestly robes, who introduced himself as subdeacon Atanas Stefanov and said he was serving in Stamboliyski, sent an ultimatum to the State Agency for National Security (DANS) within 24 hours to return the Russian priests and Bulgarian and Russian priests together to open the Russian church. In June, Stefanov tried to attack Kiril Petkov and Nikolay Denkov in front of the presidency when they went to get the second mandate to form a government.
For the Metropolitan of Rousse, the closure of the Russian Church is unacceptable
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Naum of Ruse wrote on his Facebook profile that the church “St. Nikolay Mirlikiyski” is the property of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) and that “the closing of the church “St. Nicholas” by outsiders is inadmissible, and it follows that the Metropolitan of Sofia should immediately order that the temple be opened, and that the services in it be restored in a timely manner”.
“In recent years, Bulgarian ephemeral priests, for reasons unclear to us, were successively removed from this temple, which is fundamentally absurd, due to the fact that its functions are only representative in nature. Accordingly, its material property cannot be considered Russian, because of the above, as well as the BOC, it cannot claim that the temple courtyard in Moscow is Bulgarian property, since the nature of the two courtyards is reciprocal”, explains Naum in his position.
According to the Russian authorities, however, the decision on the further fate of the closed Russian Church would be taken by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Peevski called for the opening of the Russian Church
DPS MP Delyan Peevski appealed to the Metropolitan of Sofia to open the Russian Church to believers, the press center of the movement reported.
The DPS press release also states that “as representatives of secular power, we can only offer our support to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and its believers, and therefore on Monday we will undertake the necessary legislative changes, with which the state will increase the subsidy, so that the maintenance of the temple was ensured”.
Bulgarian authorities on Thursday expelled the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sofia and two Belarusian priests, accusing them of spying for Russia.