Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Onion Domes On The Seine? Orthodox Cathedral Sparks Controversy In Paris

An artist's impression of the proposed Cultural and Spiritual Russian Orthodox Center on the Place de la Resistance, in Paris.
An artist's impression of the proposed Cultural and Spiritual Russian Orthodox Center on the Place de la Resistance, in Paris.
By Antoine Blua
Orthodox cathedrals with their trademark golden onion domes are a familiar sight across Russia. And one may soon become part of Paris's famed skyline, near the Eiffel Tower.

French President Francois Hollande has just weeks to decide on a controversial plan to build a massive Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center in downtown Paris on the banks of the Seine River, on a UNESCO-protected world heritage site.

The project is staunchly opposed by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who has described the architecture as "pastiche” and "mediocre." But Moscow is reportedly putting diplomatic pressure on Hollande to approve the project and allow construction of the golden-domed, white limestone and glass structure to proceed.

In 2011, the online real-estate television station La Chaine Immo announced plans for the cathedral with enthusiasm, describing the building as a "happy marriage between tradition and modernity."

According to the report, architect Manuel Nunez Yanowsky's design comprises "two buildings dominated by five bulbs, one of which will be 27-meters high. An immense glass veil will serve as a roof and a 3,400-square-meter garden will be open to the public."

However, opposition to this ambitious plan has quickly mounted in the French capital, where preserving the integrity of the city's famed architecture is taken seriously.

In February of this year, Delanoe called on UNESCO to prevent the project's authorization.

In response, Viktor Khrekov, a spokesman for the Kremlin Property Office, said Delanoe was only expressing "his personal opinion," which "has no legal significance."

Hollande's Dilemma

The reported deadline for Hollande to make a decision is November 29. With this red-letter day looming, the president finds himself on the horns of a dilemma.

As the French weekly "Journal du Dimanche" reported on November 11, he could either defy Delanoe, a close political ally, or risk straining diplomatic relations with Moscow.

The weekly added that Aleksandr Orlov, the Russian ambassador to France, has been calling officials nonstop to press for the project's approval.

Adding to the pressure, the cathedral is expected to be on the agenda when Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits Paris for talks with Hollande on November 27, just two days before the deadline.

Russia reportedly spent 70 million euros on the 4,500 square meters of land where the cathedral is to be built. (artist's impression)
Russia reportedly spent 70 million euros on the 4,500 square meters of land where the cathedral is to be built. (artist's impression)

On November 12, Delanoe reiterated his "aesthetic" opposition to the project, telling journalists that it would create a "bad image" of Russia and Orthodox religious authorities.

In what appears to be an attempt to find a compromise, the French Culture Ministry says it is holding talks with Russian government and Orthodox Church officials to identify "adaptations and improvements to the project to permit its construction."

'A Strong Symbolic Place'

Mikhail Krymov, who works at the Moscow-based Arch Group architectural firm that participated in the original project, told RFE/RL that his company was "required to sign a contract agreeing to leave the project."

"I really don't know what's going on," he said. "I suspect the project has changed a lot. How it has changed, I don't know. I don't know how much the building that is meant to be built corresponds to the original concept. Perhaps the two are exactly the same or perhaps they have changed it completely."

In 2010, Russia reportedly spent 70 million euros ($91 million) on the 4,500 square meters of land where the cathedral is to be built. An official request for construction was filed in January 2012, with total costs estimated at more than 30 million euros.

According to French media reports, the idea for the project, aimed at promoting "Russian civilization," came directly from President Vladimir Putin.

In a 2010 interview, Ambassador Orlov described it as "unique by its location and its nature." He noted that tens of thousands of Russians live in or near Paris and that a "strong symbolic place" was needed for them.

Paris’s Aleksandr Nevsky Cathedral currently houses the archbishop's palace of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe. At least two other Russian Orthodox churches are located in the French capital.

RFE/RL’s Moscow correspondent Tom Balmforth contributed to this report
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 13, 2012 18:10
Well.the frenchies must have eaten all their mad cows to allow such a project.Yes we must find a proper representation of russian `culture`-and these two words go like wooden stone,dry water,hot ice-cream or anything written by Eugenio Jack.Sorry to repeat myself too often but the best image of russian culture would be a vodka bottle shaped lubyanka dome ,its basis should be selyoka tin shaped with 2 statues in front of the church-One of St.Jack,the other of St.Eugenio-the best icons of russian KGB orthodoxy!!! Amen!!!
In Response

by: annonymous
November 15, 2012 14:37
While I disagree with you about Russia's culture(Russia has produced many cultural masterpieces throughout time. Some of the best literature, art and music has been produced by Russians, particularly in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Do Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff ring any bells?), I agree that this should not go through. Why change Paris in such a fundamental way. Paris is French. If this goes through, Russians will be no better than the Arabs who insist on being allowed to practice Sharia law in England.

by: Jack from: US
November 13, 2012 18:18
judging by how much French and other NATO minions love Muslims and hate Christians, French president should approve a huge Saudi-financed mosque instead. Christianity is being banished by NATO minions all across Europe and in US.
As far as "preserving the architectural integrity" goes, anyone who saw the tasteless glass pyramid in the Louvre backyard, or tried to find a decent clean restroom in Paris, understands very well that what Paris seriously needs are glass pyramid structures resembling public toilets, not Christian cathedrals
In Response

by: saucymugwump from: USA
November 13, 2012 20:13
Jack from US wrote "French and other NATO minions love Muslims and hate Christians"

Then explain why France banned the wearing of the veil in public, as did Belgium. Perhaps you are thinking of the UK, which refuses to deport even violent Islamists, e.g. Abu Qatada, with the thin justification that it would violate their human rights.

Jack from US wrote "tried to find a decent clean restroom in Paris"

I had no trouble finding one in Paris. Have you ever actually been there?
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 13, 2012 22:09
Yes,he was there,he suffered and he saw.and he was expelled from France because he flooded the rest room toilet.Eugenio has no such problems as he lives by the river-the beautiful blue Danube although he would prefer it red.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 13, 2012 21:14
Camel surprised me, for once he didn't jump for Russia.
Maybe too many Urartians live in France for a jump,
Or too much Russia invested in France to pump
Condamnation of Turks as "nazis", be trumpt,
While Russian Empire invade like Prussia.

On another hand, Eugenio is Russia-loyal,
For Prussia-Austria-Russia resurrections
Of their Empires - influx of Russia "trogian
Horse" all over former USSR and Europes
Is one of horses of "apokalipses" - Church.

Sure French feel not easy - about Ukraine,
Abkhazia, South Osetia, few other places,
Were Russian "karateli" kill prists and win
Over curches of other nations, by mazes
Of lying influxing Russ, repopulating lands.

They also feel not easy about Muslim raids,
Burning cars and streets of garbage cans,
So it comes with territory, also onion made
And quite agly roofs - like invading helmets,
Are not estetic, indeed - interesting picture:

If Russia hide their activety of bought land,
Under a semy-transparent covering-hood,
Why show to Paris agly top, Varaga band,
Helmets of Magoga invade France doods?
Hiding ambush, the long-bo arrow-heads?

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
November 14, 2012 04:04
It looks like camp of Varaga, or "Evil Plant Plantagenot".
With helmets of Norman scoundrels, harrass Eifel Tower,
Wile hiding secret weapon, "long-bo errows" under sky-towel
With army of Varaga, or betrayed-enslaved Welshian power,
By "Plantagenot" - would French be puzled, or would not?

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
November 14, 2012 04:13
France is in danger!!
We all know what today represents the Russian Orthodox Church
this is alcoholism,pedophilia,corruption, fraud, drug....

Where are you, "brave"knight Sarkozy?? Come and save France!! Russian priests are coming!!
The forces of evil-Putin and his gang...they want to involve France in devilish game..Do not forget my dear french people,that the Russian church also branch of the Russian FSB.
Russian priests want recruit people for terrorist activities
It is best for France, to ban from entering the country
to all Orthodox priests -criminals...
Putin,somali pirates, abkhaz bandits, and camel also should not appear in France..
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 14, 2012 09:29
Vakhtang Kaka,I have no intention of going to France,I`m very well here in Free Abkhazia,drinking me wine /real wine,not the georgian pigswill version/ and eating me shashliks.Soon I will make an official visit to Free Ossetia,where they say the wine and the shashliks are even better.Comes spring we shall have to think about the liberation of the rest of Georgia,so that the georgians might enjoy these ameniies,too.Say hello from me to all georgians in Moss mad cow!!!
In Response

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
November 14, 2012 13:20
poor camel...
didn't you know that in Abkhazia this is no wine ,it is must be a moldovan pigswill that diluted with muddy water and with ossetian wood alcohol..
Now I know why got sick mr.camel and says nonsense.
Give my heartfelt greetings to abkhazian bandits, whom are you helping to take out the stolen bed linen.
I just do not understand why you need bed linen, because we know that the camel sleeps on straw...
In Response

by: Sami Ahonen from: Finland
November 14, 2012 16:47
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes bad architecture is just bad architechture.

However, I do find the project interesting as it is a rare example of an attempt to modernize Russian Orthodox architecture. Truth be told, kitsch and pastiche are indeed suitable words to describe the proposed centre if it is to be anything like the artist's impressions. It combines the Kremlin Cathedral of the Assumption with what looks like elements of a modern mosque . A perfectly suitable metaphor for contemporary Russian culture in all its glitzy pomp and loud vulgarity.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 14, 2012 08:47
Aha, just as I was saying: while this good old "free" Europe finds itself in the process of irreversible decline, OUTSIDERS come to the Old Continent and little by little start feeling at home here. It's a pity that M. Blua (even though I think that if you tried a little harder you would have written it correctly - Blois) chose to talk ONLY about the fact that the Russians are taking over one chunk of the historical center of la Ville Lumière: a few weeks ago I saw a very interesting debate on the French public channel France24 on how ONE OF THE FREEST COUNTRIES on Earth - the Emirate of Qatar - is giving "scholarships" to the most underpriviledged segment of the French society - those young guys of "migrant origine" who grow up in the banlieues and have no prospectives of getting out of those EVER in their lives. So, the French analysts on the program were pretty worried about the alleged fact that Qatar was likely to use this investment into "human capital" in order to promote radical Islam in France. How surprising...
And one can already imagine this "free" Europe 10 years from now: the Chinese will have bought all the Greek shipyards, the Russians - all the beaches in Cyprus and Côte d'Azur, the Qataris will have established an Emirate in the Ile de France region... No wonder: that's what's doomed to happen to those who entrust the inept bankrupt and corrupt capitalist oligarchies with misgoverning their countries, the way the Europeans did.
Dazu noch - an interesting VIDEO on what this "free" Europe is living through these days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbWxl96RWHA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 14, 2012 09:41
Aaah,dear rfe/rlers,who did the hanky panky all night long with the beautiful gypsy schiksas in Prague???The caption on top of your home page says `orthodox mosque in Paris`-Ha, the bloodiest of has!!! Now all we need i a Buddhist synagogue!!!
In Response

by: Moderator
November 14, 2012 12:16
Thank you for pointing out this error. It was immediately corrected within a few minutes of its being made and was no longer on our homepage by the time we received your post. Nonetheless, we appreciate the diligent attention you devote to our website.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 14, 2012 12:52
So,this web site is yours,eh??? I thought it was CIA`s,but maybe you`ve bought it meanwhile.Thanx for the thanx-I thought it was you who urge the readers to post their comments and censor them when you dont like it.

by: Ben
November 14, 2012 20:03
Camel! Don`t worry,Moskovites Orthodoxes will be the only defendents of the Paris from the newly built numerous mosques and its visitors!
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 14, 2012 21:32
Aah,Ben,last time the russians met the tatars on a grand scale the results were not very good for the Christians.In 30 years time the Orthodoxes will be a minority in their own Russia.

by: Jack from: US
November 14, 2012 20:20
Paris is a dumpster and a toilet, full of Arabs, beggars, and poop on the streets. Gypsies are attacking people right under Eiffel tower. The CDG aiport is a total mess, which I did not see even in India. I'm not a fan of Germans either, but at least Germans have decent orderly airports and clean restrooms. Big difference with French

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