A massive spontaneous rally in Yekaterinburg against the construction of a square near the city’s Drama Theater of St. Catherine’s Church ended in a clash of protesters with the police and sporting young people who called themselves the protectors of the temple. The construction of the church for the 300th anniversary of Yekaterinburg is financed by two local billionaires - the owner of the Russian Copper Company Igor Altushkin (No. 25 in the Forbes rating, worth $ 4.3 billion) and the head of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company Andrei Kozitsyn (No. 24, $ 4 , 4 billion).
Battle of the square. Several thousand people came to the action in defense of the square near the Drama Theater, where they are going to build a temple. The residents' discontent was caused by the construction project, according to which it is planned to cut down trees in the public garden. Supporters of the construction claim that the temple will become an important religious object and will attract tourists.
On Monday evening, the protesters began to dance around the square, and then they threw down the fence, which the workers had installed in the morning. It was not possible to consolidate success - young people of athletic build came to the park, among which, according to Novaya Gazeta, were fighters from the Russian Copper Company martial arts academy, one of the construction sponsors Igor Altushkin. Athletes rebuilt the fence and took under guard the tent with the first stone of the future building.
Fighting began between supporters of the temple and the protesters - the athletes pressed the residents to the exit from the public garden. According to the protesters, several people were beaten, and one of the defenders of the temple sprayed gas from a can. The arriving police took no action, but around midnight tried to detain several of the protesters, but they fought off the detainees. As a result, law enforcement officers took away only four protesters. Also, the police tried to detain one of the defenders of the construction, which sprayed gas from a can. Athletes beat off their own, but later it became known about the detention of the offender.
After midnight, local authorities reacted to the incident. The vice-governor of the Sverdlovsk region, Sergey Bidonko, stated that during the rally, “no fights and other illegal actions were allowed,” and recalled that the church construction project had passed public hearings and had received all necessary permits. Despite this, Mr. Bidonko promised that on Tuesday a meeting would be held in the administration that would offer options for resolving the conflict. In the morning, the governor of the Sverdlovsk region, Yevgeny Kuyvashev, offered his mediation to the protestors and defenders of the church, and the Yekaterinburg diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church called on its parishioners for public prayer in the square.
Who builds the temple. The church of St. Catherine for the 300th anniversary of Yekaterinburg is built by the company of the same name - LLC “Church of St. Catherine” According to SPARK-Interfax, the company, founded in February 2016, was initially 100% owned by RMK Altushkina. In March, the shares were distributed between Altushkin (25%), RMK (25%) and the general director of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, Andrei Kozitsyn (50%). The General Director of the Temple of St. Catherine is Ekaterinburg businessman Mikhail Ivleev, who is also the director and co-owner of the company UTPK, which is engaged in large construction projects of the RMK, the new headquarters of the company in Yekaterinburg and the Memorial of Glory in Karabash. The cost of building a 70-meter temple is estimated at 3.5 billion rubles. The balance of the "Temple of St. Catherine" - assets worth more than 48 million rubles, follows from the data SPARK. In 2017, it acquired non-current assets for RUB 27 million (these may include land or construction equipment).
The first business Altushkina in the early 1990s was a company for the collection and recycling of non-ferrous metals. Now, in addition to supporting the ROC, he is known for extravagant gestures: according to Forbes, the famous British architect Norman Foster is engaged in the project of the RMK headquarters in Yekaterinburg, and Altushkina himself owns a mansion in London, formerly owned by singer Madonna. Together with his son Altushkin arranges boxing and mixed martial arts tournaments with the participation of first-rate stars in Yekaterinburg.
Friends of the ROC. Both Igor Altushkin and Andrei Kozitsyn are well-known sponsors of the projects of the Russian Orthodox Church. Both donate for the construction of temples long ago and receive thanks from Patriarch Kirill, and in 2018 Altushkin provided the patriarch for his flight to Yekaterinburg with his personal business jet for $ 25 million.
Altushkin is the founder of the RCC charity foundation. The first in the list of tasks of the fund is “strengthening traditional family values and the role of the family in society”. The Foundation actively cooperates with the ROC and financed the construction of the Church of the Nativity of Christ in the village of Naurskaya in Chechnya.
In July 2018, Altushkin gave Embraer Legacy 600 a business jet to Patriarch Kirill worth more than $ 25 million. The Patriarch visited Yekaterinburg and returned to Moscow. A representative of the Russian Orthodox Church then confirmed that the plane was provided by “entrepreneurs” and is necessary for the patriarch because of the difficult route.
Since 2003, Andrei Kozitsyn has been a member of the Patriarchal Council of Alexy II and actively participated in the restoration of the Valaam monastery, which Vladimir Putin often visits. The businessman is a member of the board of trustees of several Orthodox funds at once - the Andrew the First Called Foundation and the Center of National Glory, the Alexander Nevsky program. In 2014, the patriarch personally thanked Kozitsyn for "multiplying and preserving the memory of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky." The Secretary of the Diocesan Administration of the Yekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hieromonk Kirill, who also actively participates in the project for the construction of the church of St. Catherine, even compared Kozitsyn with the archangel. “This is not some kind of“ me ”,” the businessman explained his participation in the project.
Protests against the business. The construction of the temple is not the first project of the RMK, which caused protests of local residents. In 2017, mass protests questioned the company's largest investment project - the construction of the Tominsky Mining and Processing Plant in the Chelyabinsk Region. They also ended in violent clashes between protesters and RCC representatives.
RMK is going to invest in the construction of Tominsky GOK for 110 thousand tons of copper concentrate per year 65.9 billion rubles. Most of the investments will be provided by Gazprombank's loan of 54.4 billion rubles, which the company received in the spring of 2018.
Construction of the first phase began in 2017 and caused protests from local residents, who claim that the construction of a combine 9 km from the Shershnevsky reservoir, from which Chelyabinsk receives water, can make the city uninhabitable. In the autumn of 2017, a few months before the presidential election, according to the information of Novaya Gazeta, one of the activists was personally called by President Vladimir Putin and after the conversation instructed the governor of the Chelyabinsk region to take the matter on personal control. But this did not change the course of the project implementation: local authorities took the side of RCC.
The protesters were supported by Alexei Navalny, who was also going to take part in the elections, - on the eve of his trip to Chelyabinsk in 2017, he wrote appeals to the heads of VTB and Sberbank about the inadmissibility of financing the project.
In 2017, the security guards of the RMK beat protesters against the construction of the mining and enrichment plant, and, according to the testimony of Novaya Gazeta, “gopniki” came to public hearings about the construction, who threatened to “set fire to the houses” who disagreed with the construction.
Round dances against the temple. Work on the project of the temple began in 2010. It was originally planned that it would be erected on the site of the St. Catherine Church blown up by the Bolsheviks in 1930, near the Iset River. Now there is a fountain "Stone Flower" and Labor Square. The project was prevented by protests of residents. In 2017, it was supposed to build a temple on the water, but this project was also hindered by protests of local residents against the construction of a city pond in the water area. As a result, they decided to build a temple near the local Drama Theater. LLC "Church of St. Catherine" won the auction and received 5.9 thousand square meters. m for 54 months for 3.5 million rubles under the "religious use".
In November 2018, activists challenged the construction of a church at a new place in the prosecutor’s office, but the law enforcement officers found no reason to respond. After that, the activists repeated the action against building on the water “Embrace the pond”, but this time several hundred gathered surrounded the square of the square with a round dance. In addition, the protesters launched several online petitions, which together gained more than 13,000 votes.
After the first protest actions in early March 2019, supporters of the construction organized a mass prayer service in the square near the theater. The event entitled “Celebration of the Celebration of Orthodoxy” was attended by actors Sergey Bezrukov, Mikhail Porechenkov, Mikhail Galustyan, Putin’s counterpart Dmitry Grachev, Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev, Metropolitan of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Kirill. Among the participants was Igor Altushkin.