Several hundred people rallied outside a St. Petersburg landmark cathedral on January 13 to protest plans to give it to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The local governor this week announced the city was transferring the iconic St. Isaac's Cathedral to the Orthodox Church, sparking a rash of protests in the former imperial city.
Protesters flocked to Isaakiyevskaya Square near St. Isaac's to protest the move on the evening of January 13. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been an important museum since Russia's 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. More than 3.5 million tourists visit it every year.
"The Church should know its place!" one placard read.
Police confiscated one poster but did not otherwise block the protest.
TASS reported that activists have gathered as many as 160,000 signatures on a petition to revoke the local government's decision to give away the cathedral.
The signatures include people from Moscow, Yekaterinburg, and Krasnodar as well as St. Petersburg, TASS said.
The church takeover of the landmark is part of a growing trend toward social conservatism in Russia. President Vladimir Putin has appealed to traditional values and urged citizens to eschew Western liberalism.