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Russian News: Protests Against Church Construction in Yekateriburg Posted by on May 20, 2019 in News

You might have read in the news that residents of the city of Yekaterinburg are protesting the construction of a church in place of a park, and it’s even come to clashes with the police. Let’s look at some of the background and coverage of this situation.

city street

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

Where is this again?

Yekaterinburg, Екатеринбу́рг in Russian, is a city in the Urals (Ура́л) and the 4th largest city in Russia. It is known, among other things, as the place where the last Russian czar Nicolas II (Никола́й Второ́й) are his family were brutally killed by the Bolsheviks, and the hometown of the first Russian president Boris Yeltsin (Бори́с Е́льцин). During the Soviet period, it was called Sverdlovsk (Свердло́вск).

Why build this church?

The latest conflict started when city authorities decided to build a church (храм, literally “temple”) in a small green space (сквер, from the English “square”) in the city cent{re/er}. At least some residents (жи́тели) are against it, saying the city has enough churches, and this is the only green space in their neighbo{u}rhood (райо́н).

Novaya Gazeta (“Но́вая газе́та“) reports that this conflict has been steeping for a few years:

Спо́ры вокру́г строи́тельства хра́ма Свято́й Екатери́ны не утиха́ют в Екатеринбу́рге уже́ 9 (!) лет. В 2010 году́ екатеринбу́ргская епа́рхия РПЦ предложи́ла постро́ить собо́р на пло́щади Труда́. В го́роде на́чались проте́сты, и епа́рхия от свои́х пла́нов отказа́лась.

[Debates about the construction of St. Catherine Church have been raging in Yekaterinburg for as long as 9 years. In 2010, the Yekaterinburg Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church suggested building a church on Truda Square. Protests erupted in the city, and the eparchy went back on its plans.]

city view with an Orthodox church

Image by 2048492 from Pixabay

What happened this time around?

On May 13, a fence (забо́р) was put up around the site of the future church. Protesters took a section of the fence down and kept coming to the park on subsequent nights. Things got physical between the protesters and some muscular men who claimed to be defending the construction site. Several protesters have been injured (получи́ли тра́вмы) and/or detained (бы́ли заде́ржаны). The BBC writes:

Во вре́мя пе́рвой стихи́йной а́кции в понеде́льник протесту́ющие повали́ли забо́р и зашли́ на террито́рию скве́ра, но по́зже охра́нники и помога́вшие им “спортсме́ны” поста́вили его́ обра́тно, а собра́вшихся ста́ли отта́лкивать от него́.

[During the first unplanned rally on Monday the protesters toppled the fence and entered the square, but later the guards and the “athletes” who were helping them put it back in its place and started pushing the gathering crowd away from it.]

What was the reaction?

Yekaternburg celebrities were split in their attitudes to building the church. Former Youtube sensation and ironic pop singer-songwriter Monetochka (Моне́точка) spoke out against the project, while the lead singer of Chaif (Чайф) praised the proposed location as a sensible compromise between the wishes of the believers and other city residents.

When asked about the situation, Russian president Vladimir Putin (Влади́мир Пу́тин) implied that protesters may be outside actors and proposed polling the residents to determine the outcome. Meduza (Меду́за) pointed out that unlike a referendum (рефере́ндум), a poll is not observed: “при проведе́нии опро́са не предусмо́трено никако́го наблюде́ния.”

This is an ongoing situation, and there may well be new developments by the time this post is published. Have you been following this story? Is it covered in the media where you live?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.


  1. William Smith:

    While I am not Russian nor do I know the Russian language, I have been interested in studying things Russian since I was a small boy.
    I love Russian history, geography and literature. I have read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. I visited St. Petersburg many years ago.