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Russian Officials Scrap Yekaterinburg Church Plan After Public Outcry


Demonstrators wave their phones as they gather in front of a fence backed by police during a protest against plans to construct a cathedral in a park in Yekaterinburg on May 15.

Officials in Russia's Sverdlovsk region have scrapped plans to build an Orthodox church in a Yekaterinburg park after a rare public outcry over the project that prompted President Vladimir Putin to urge all sides to find a comprise solution.

Regional Governor Yevgeny Kuivashev said in a post on his Instagram account on May 22 that he made the decision after a poll showed 74 percent of respondents thought locating the church in a popular park in the Ural Mountains city was a poor choice.

"I think the data published by [polling agency] VTsIOM are grounds to exclude the square by the Drama Theater from the list of possible locations for the construction of St. Catherine's Cathedral," Kuivashev said in the post.

"A new location must be found," he added.

The announcement comes days after officials in two Russian cities -- Chelyabinsk and Krasnoyarsk -- suspended or scrapped plans to construct religious buildings as well.

Several evenings of protests in Yekaterinburg withered after local authorities said that construction work on the proposed new church was suspended pending the results of the opinion poll.

During the protest campaign, police arrested almost 100 protesters, 33 of whom were sentenced to jail terms between two and 15 days.

Yekaterinburg is Russia's fourth-largest city.

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