On the evening of November 6, the press service of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy published a statement by its current head, Rostislav Karandeev, that the Church of St. Nicholas in Kyiv will be transferred to the parish of the Roman Catholic Church after the relocation of the National House of Music to another premises and amendments to the laws.
This message appeared after believers came to the ministry in the afternoon, demanding to fulfill the memorandum on the transfer of the church, by which MKIP undertook to return the building by June 1, 2022.
UP. Culture found out what is happening around the Kyiv neo-Gothic church on Velyka Vasylkivska Street after the work to eliminate the consequences of the fire that occurred in September 2021 was completed here at the end of February 2022.
To draw attention to the state of the architectural monument, the participants of the action brought with them to the building of the ministry stones that fall from the walls of the church. They demanded to produce a certificate of the technical condition of the church building, a passport of the monument, plans of the premises, as well as to name the new terms of handing over the church to the community.
|Believers brought stones falling from the church to the Moscow State Orthodox Church. Photo: CREDO|
In the end, Karandeev met with the believers and said that they will be able to complete the transfer of the church after the Council makes the necessary changes in the legislation, and the National House of Music, which was also located in the church, will be moved to another location.
“We have prepared the necessary changes to the legislation. Some of them have already been adopted. These are, in particular, changes to the Law “On Culture”. Currently, we expect that the Verkhovna Rada will adopt amendments to the Law “On Leasing of State Property”. This will allow the church to be handed over to the community for free and permanent use. Currently, there is no such norm in the legislation, and the only form of use under which state property can be provided is a lease“, said the Acting Minister of Culture.
|Karandeev met with the participants of the action. Photo: MKIP|
According to him, the National House of Music will be moved to a part of the building of the International Center of Culture and Arts on Heroiv Nebesnaya Sotni Street. They have already conducted preliminary project studies there and agreed with the Federation of Trade Unions on the transfer of this premises to state ownership.
Karandeev assured that all decisions needed for the transfer of the church will be made by the end of the year.
|Photo courtesy of Pavlo Vyshkovskyi|
The same terms in conversation with UP. Culture confirmed by the abbot of the temple Pavlo Vyshkovskyi. “The head of the ministry started talking about the fact that the House of Music should be moved first, to which I asked if the case with the wing of the October Palace had already been resolved. He replied that today, November 8, there will be a court session, and he hopes that it will the seizure of this property has been lifted. He also hopes that by the end of this year the legal case of the transfer can be resolved.” Father Pavlo said.
However, according to him, this is not the first promise to complete the transfer of the church: “At one time, the president of Ukraine promised the Pope to return the church to the faithful. I attended meetings with ministers [культури] Nyshchuk, Tkachenko and others – and they all promised it a long time ago“.
|Fragments of stone fall from the building from time to time. Photo courtesy of Pavlo Vyshkovskyi|
Pavlo Vyshkovskyy emphasized during the action under the MKIP that the National House of Music from the church “has already moved a long time ago, concerts have been taking place at other venues for a long time.” “A fire on the night of September 3, 2021 evicted NBOKM from the temple, since then they have had nothing in the temple, concerts take place at other venues“, he confirms in the conversation.
Director General of the National House of Music Olga Kononenko also admits that after the fire in the church in September 2021, concerts will be held at other rented locations in Kyiv, as well as across Ukraine and beyond. She says that there were plans to build a new building for the House of Music, but due to the full-scale war, this became impossible.
“The process of obtaining a new stationary concert venue is not fast: before the war, it was about the construction of a new infrastructure complex, namely the implementation of the “House of Music” project in accordance with the decree of the President and the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. It is absolutely obvious that this is out of the question now and in the near future. Therefore, together with our partners, we are looking for alternative options – premises with the possibility of its reconstruction with adaptation to our needs, – which would allow to solve this issue. Therefore, our “relocation” is still ahead“, Kononenko explains.
The director of the National House of Music confirms that emergency works to eliminate the consequences of the fire, which were completed in January 2022, did not make the temple suitable for concerts. “The next stage should be the stage of complex restoration of the church building. It is clear that under the conditions of a full-scale invasion, this process has not begun. The condition of the building is currently unsatisfactory and does not provide for the possibility of holding cultural and mass events in it“, she said.
|Photos showing the state of the church. Photo courtesy of Pavlo Vyshkovskyi|
Father Pavlo says that when they entered the temple after the emergency works on February 20, 2022, they began to save it from mold, fungus, moisture and waterlogging: “In January 2022, they managed to complete the preliminary emergency work, and the then Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko gathered the media to report on the spent 21.5 million collected from businesses and charities. These funds were enough to cover all the windows in the church with polyethylene, hang temporary lighting and batteries on the walls, which are already an insult to such a monument, stretch a protective net against stones falling from above, and cover the floor with protective chipboard plates. After these “anti-emergency works”, the state of the church deteriorated even more“.
|Photo courtesy of Pavlo Vyshkovskyi|
Four days after the parish moved from the basement to the upper church, a full-scale invasion began. “We stayed in the temple. They prayed with people, helped the lonely to buy at least milk and bread, and later they made a humanitarian hub in the temple. More than 350 tons of aid were distributed and sent to Chernihiv Oblast, Kyiv Oblast, Cherkasy Oblast, Kharkiv Oblast, Sumy Oblast, Kherson Oblast, etc.“, the abbot recalls.
At the same time, they tried to save the temple: “The parish independently saved the floor from the covered slabs, because a fungus began to develop under it, and the floor began to rot, and the parquet rotted in places. All the water that was used to clean the walls in the upper part of the church seeped into the lower part of the church, and since the ventilation has not worked since the 2000s, this has greatly accelerated the corrosion and mold on the walls. Some of the side columns began to crack due to excessive moisture. This is just a brief description of the current state of the building. We made a state of technical survey on 72 pages, which shows the state of the church after the so-called emergency works“.
|Photo courtesy of Pavlo Vyshkovskyi|
According to Father Pavel, despite the poor condition of the building, religious services are held here every day, training, baptism ceremonies, weddings, and farewells to fallen defenders are held here. “Today, the parish is trying to save the building on its own, and inside it lives a parish life“, he says.
|Farewell to the defender in the church. Photo courtesy of Pavlo Vyshkovskyi|
After returning the church to the parish, the abbot notes, they plan to return the building to its original appearance: “We have already scanned the walls of the church with the help of a Swiss firm, and we know their condition. In the archives, they found descriptions and photos of how the church looked before the Bolshevik destruction, and made a visualization to return it to its original state. After that, we will begin a detailed examination of the condition of the building – that is, diagnostics of the church. I had conversations abroad and with the government of Poland, in the USA, in Italy, where they are ready to support us in saving the church“.
Believers registered a petition on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers about transferring the church to a religious community. As of November 8, it was signed by more than 7.8 thousand of the required 25 thousand.
Church of St. Nicholas – one of two Roman Catholic churches in Kyiv, built before 1917. It was built in 1899-1909 in the Neo-Gothic style by Kyiv architect Vladyslav Horodetsky.
|Photo: Roman Catholic Parish of St. Nicholas in Kyiv / Facebook|
Since 2009, the temple premises have been in a state of disrepair. Activists have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that parts of the church’s facade are falling off.
On September 3, 2021, a fire broke out in the church, the cause of which was a short circuit. The fire broke out between the first and second floors of the building. During the fire in the church, the wind organ burned down – the only active such instrument in Europe.
In November, the Ministry of Culture and the parish signed a Memorandum stating that on June 1, 2022, after renovation, the church should be used by the church.
In December of the same year, work on eliminating the consequences of the fire began in the temple. The cost of restoration work was estimated at 75 million hryvnias. “For the restoration, the technology of careful cleaning of the surface of fragile decorative elements, developed in Germany, will be used“, Oleksandr Tkachenko said then.
On June 1, 2022, a solemn service was held in the church, attended by Tkachenko, who in an interview with UP.Zhyttya promised to hand over the church to the Catholic community.
Main photo: spoilt.exile / Flickr
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