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Russian Orthodox Church Seeks Control Of Kaliningrad's Protestant Cathedral

KALININGRAD, Russia -- A centuries-old Protestant cathedral in Russia's Kaliningrad might be taken over by the Russian Orthodox Church, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The church was built in the 14th century by Catholics, though it later became a Protestant church.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant was buried near it in the early 1800s.

The church was destroyed by Britain's Air Force during World War II, but in 1992 activists began restoring the building and founded the Kant Institute, a research center. Europe's largest pipe organ is housed there.

But the Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will take the cathedral under it control.

Igor Odintsov, the head of the cathedral, told RFE/RL that the statement made by the Russian Orthodox Church patriarch has led to confrontation between Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians.

He said the Orthodox Church has nothing to do with the cathedral.

Ordintsov said neither the Russian government nor the Orthodox Church gave one cent to restore the church. All restoration was completed with money raised by activists and private sponsors.

Mikhail Seleznev, the chief of the Orthodox Eparchy's Communications Department in Kaliningrad, told RFE/RL that the cathedral would be taken over by the Orthodox Church due to Russia's restitution law.

He said all believers will continue to attend the church when it is under Orthodox control.

The Orthodox Church reportedly wants to gain control over seven other non-Orthodox churches in the region.