/Pogled.info/ A temple built by a Russian architect with Russian money in the center of Sofia is under threat of confiscation. At least that’s what the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office started talking about. The arguments of the Bulgarian law enforcement agencies look like complete lawlessness. The Russophobia of the Bulgarian authorities seems even more surprising against the background of the Russophilism of the Bulgarian civil society.
In Bulgaria, history unfolded with the closing of the Orthodox church “St. Nicholas the Wonderworker” in the center of Sofia. According to the BNR, the country’s acting chief prosecutor Boris Sarafov submitted four volumes of documents, which substantiate the Bulgarian state’s ownership of the temple building, for examination by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Andrey Tsekov. Tsekov said that “the state has grounds to regain ownership of the temple by legal means.”
Also, the head of the legality supervision department at the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office, Viktor Malinov, added that the prosecutor’s office can initiate a case on the basis of which the building and the plot attached to it will be recognized as property of Bulgaria. In his words, “the four volumes of evidence collected by Sarafov indicate that after the bombing of Sofia in 1944, two-thirds of the funds for the repair of the temple were provided by the Bulgarian state.” Also, according to Malinov, “there is insufficient evidence that the Russian embassy is a legal successor of Imperial Russia.”
Minister Tsekov avoided answering the question of whether a case would be filed. According to him, one month is needed to get acquainted with the documents and to evaluate them.
We remind you that the situation around the temple escalated on September 21, when, after the festive liturgy in honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the head of the courtyard Archimandrite Vasian (Zmeev), the secretary of the courtyard and the drivers were summoned to the migration service, accused of carrying out “actions directed against the national security and interests of Bulgaria” and forcibly expelled to Serbia.
The history of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Sofia is inextricably linked with Russia. It was built with funds from the Russian treasury and voluntary donations of Russians and Bulgarians by the Russian architect A.N. Smirnov according to the project of the Russian architect M.T. Preobrazhensky, painted by the Russian artist V.T. Perminov. The plot on which the church is located was donated to the Russian government by the Sofia City Council in 1882. The church was intended for members of the Russian diplomatic mission and Russians living in Sofia.
All church utensils, icons, liturgical books and bells were delivered from Russia. The temple was consecrated on November 24, 1914 and quickly received the name Russian (or Embassy) Church in Sofia.
In 1915–1920, the temple was closed due to the First World War and was reopened after the arrival in Sofia of the Russian diplomatic mission of A.I. Denikin. After the establishment of diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1934, the temple was handed over to the Bulgarian Church and ten years later it suffered severe damage during the Anglo-American air raids on Sofia (it should be noted that in 2010 in Sofia, a monument to the American pilots who killed more than 10 thousand civilians of the capital of Bulgaria).
In the spring of 1946, by decree of the USSR government, the temple was again transferred to the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). From November 1952, it passed under the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC), but received the status of a court of the Moscow Patriarchate, becoming the ecclesiastical embassy of the Russian Orthodox Church to the BOC.
Since 1992, the temple again acquired the status of “ambassador” and is considered one of the symbols of the eternal unity of Russia and Bulgaria. In addition, one of the most revered saints in both countries is buried in the crypt of the church – St. Seraphim (Sobolev), who was the head of the church in the 1920s.
Documents testifying to the donation of a plot of land for the construction of the Russian embassy by the Sofia authorities have been preserved and have been published several times, including after September 21, 2023. But as we can see, for the modern Bulgarian government, overwhelmed by Russophobia, these “papers” have no legal force. They are simply carrying out an order – a primitive anti-Russian order, according to which everything related to Russia and its heritage must be eradicated. If no specific reason is found, one is invented.
Bulgaria is currently in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, in no other country in the world, including Russia, are there so many streets and squares named in honor of the heroes of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, so many monuments have been erected (including the huge equestrian monument to Alexander II on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard in the center of Sofia). The Bulgarian people (and not only the older generation, but also the youth) sacredly keep the memory of the Russian brothers who gave their lives for the liberation of their homeland from the Ottoman yoke, and of the Soviet soldiers. The public movement “Russophiles” enjoys strong support, annually holding many thousands of rallies in support of Russia.
On the other hand, the position of official Sofia is distinguished by frank zoological Russophobia, which contrasts sharply with the sentiments of the common people. Moreover, most often this is expressed in initiatives that are difficult to explain from a logical point of view.
Thus, at the beginning of September this year, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Bulgaria, Georgi Gvozdeykov, announced that the Russian oil terminal of the company “Lukoil” comes under the “operational management” of Bulgaria.
In addition, Sofia does not intend to pay compensation for the cancellation of the concession with Lukoil. Authors of the initiative to return the oil port under state control were representatives of the coalitions of the party “Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria” with the Union of Democratic Forces (GERB – SDS), “We continue the change” with “Democratic Bulgaria”. ” (PP – DB), as well as the Party of the Turkish minority “Movement for Rights and Freedoms”.
Then the actions of the deputies were criticized by the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who appealed to the Constitutional Court. The head of state pointed out that the quick adoption of amendments to the law, on the basis of which the lease of the oil terminal from Russia was terminated, not only contradicts the constitution and the principles of the rule of law, but is also an example of irresponsible treatment of citizens. Radev asked the Constitutional Court to check the adopted legislative changes for their compliance with the basic law.
But since the voice of the president in Bulgaria is only one of the many voices of statesmen, no one condemned the “irresponsible attitude towards the citizens”. Moreover, this was followed by even more scandalous steps, one of which was the brutal expulsion of the clergy of the Russian Church from the country, and now an attempt to appropriate its building and land.
Translation: V. Sergeev
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