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Activists In Siberian City Demand Referendum On Site For New Church

An Orthodox priest baptizes a woman in the Yenisei River during a ceremony marking the Christianization of the country in Krasnoyarsk.

Activists in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk have mounted a petition campaign against plans to build a Russian Orthodox church in the city center on the bank of the Yenisei River.

Yelena Ulyashova, an activist in Krasnoyarsk, told RFE/RL on April 25 that the petition will be handed to the authorities in the Siberian city soon.

The petitioners have collected more than 1,000 signatures online and about the same number from people who have signed it in person.

The activists say the site, which was approved by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in 2012, is too close to an area where many residents of the city of 1 million spend leisure time. They are calling for a referendum to find another site for the new church.

Since the collapse of the communist Soviet Union, the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church has built or restored many churches across the country.

Residents have opposed construction is some cases, contending that there are enough churches in their cities or towns to serve the faithful and that the land would be better used in a different way.

In March, residents of the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals protested against a site for a new church. Earlier in April, similar protests were expressed in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

Polls indicate that more than two-thirds of Russians consider themselves Orthodox Christians, but only a small fraction attend church regularly.