for www.themoscowtimes.com on Oct. 29, 2010
Staunton ― On Oct. 5, the acting mayor of the Russian capital, Vladimir Resin, called for holding public hearings on all construction projects for churches, mosques and synagogues. That is a plan that could threaten existing relationships between Moscow's government and the Moscow Patriarchate.
It also could produce venues for Muslims to advocate for adding mosques to Moscow.
During a city government meeting that some religious leaders attended, Resin said the public hearings on religious construction were needed, RIA-Novosti reported. “it is necessary to initiate public hearings on each project for the construction of new churches, mosques and synagogues” so as to ensure the projects' compliance with the city’s development plan, or Genplan, Resin said.
If it is carried out, the program will have two different sets of consequences for the two largest religious communities in Moscow, Russian Orthodox Christians and Muslims, and the way they interact with both the city's bureaucracy and other residents.
For the Russian Orthodox, such hearings could complicate the cozy relationship that the Moscow Patriarchate has enjoyed with city authorities. To date, that relationship has meant that Moscow's government responded to the Church’s requests without seeking input from the capital's population.
Now that appears likely to change. While few Muscovites are opposed to church construction per se, some may object to the building of a church in a particular location, or of a particular size. In fact, polls have shown that some residents of Russian cities are inclined to oppose any new construction.
To read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/columns//article/resin-wants-hearings-on-religious-construction/419331.html