Plans Suspended for Russian Cathedral in Paris
According to reports, François Hollande is under growing pressure to approve plans for a Russian Orthodox cathedral and cultural centre near the Eiffel Tower or risk straining diplomatic relations with Moscow. The plan to build the whitewashed cathedral, complete with five golden domes reaching up to 85.6 feet (26 metres) high, was meant to “promote Russian civilisation”, and comes “directly” from President Vladimir Putin. However, the design caused controversy in Paris, earning some strong criticism from President Hollande’s ally and mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, who described it as “an ostentation” of “pastiche architecture” and “mediocre”.
As the deadline for approving the cathedral building contract approaches on 29 November, pressure’s been mounting on Mr Hollande, who has the final word. According to the Journal du Dimanche, his cabinet held a special meeting without the mayor last week; Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev will visit Paris two days before the deadline. Nevertheless, officials in the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said, “We hope the project will move forward”. In what appears to be an attempt at compromise, the French Ministry of Culture said it was holding, “discussions with the Russian state and the Orthodox Church to define adaptations and improvements to the project, to permit its construction”. Russia purchased the 45,692 square foot (4,245 square metres. 1.05 acres. 0.4 hectare) property for 70 million Euros (£56 million) two years ago from France, as part of a French programme to sell off little-used, state-owned buildings to help reduce debt.
Source: Voices from Russia