Medvedev signs decree on financing of New Jerusalem Monastery renovation

President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday signed a decree on the recreation of the New Jerusalem Monastery. The government was instructed to subsidise the monastery restoration fund from the federal budget starting in 2009.

Earlier, Medvedev identified priorities in the job to restore the monastery and fixed the concrete time limit for this work.

The New Jerusalem Monastery is unparalleled among the monuments of human history, Medvedev said. "It is deservedly regarded as a cultural phenomenon and it is the only successful attempt to produce an exact copy of the Holy Land," the president noted, adding, "By restoring our great spiritual centres, we are contributing to the revival of our roots and our values."

The restoration of the New Jerusalem Monastery may require 13-20 billion roubles, First Vice Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said earlier.

"The monastery has not been essentially examined yet," he said, adding that there were no documents for the restoration and renovation of the monastery and it was difficult to calculate the cost of work.

"We will have to begin virtually from scratch. We will begin by examining the condition of the monastery and other objects and drawing up necessary documents. We will thoroughly study the artistic and historical features designed several centuries ago and give a great deal of attention to that," Zubkov, who is the board chairman of the New Jerusalem Monastery Restoration Fund, said.

"We examined the monastery and other objects. The impression is that there will be a lot of work to do here. We think that the volume of work is comparable to the restoration of the Kremlin or the construction of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral," Zubkov said.

He said all work would cover a period of five to seven years.

Zubkov recalled that 50 percent of the cost of restoration would be paid by the federal budget, and the other half would come from corporate and private donations.

The historical New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow will be restored by 2016 or possibly sooner, with budget appropriations and donations being closely watched, he said.

"The scale of work to restore this unique historical and cultural monument of global importance requires joint efforts of the stat, the church and society. Work is to be completed within 5-7 years. Financing will be provided both from the budget and donations," Zubkov said.

He said, "Each rouble will be used for the stated purpose and will be under strict control."

Gazprom, Rosselkhozbank, Russian Railways, VTB Bank, ministries, institutions, enterprises and organisations in the Moscow region have made their donations to the fund.

Private donators include ordinary people, statesmen and businessmen, such as President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Zubkov, Minister for Regional Development Dmitry Kozak, Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow region Governor Boris Gromov, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, Rostekhnologii head Sergei Chemezov, businessman Suleiman Kerimov, and Norilsk Nickel CEO Vladimir Strzhalkovsky.

The employees of some social institutions in the Moscow region have transferred their day's salary to the fund.

The New Jerusalem Monastery was conceived in the 17th century by Patriarch Nikon as an "icon of the Holy Land" with its Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary and Jordan. The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is the main cathedral and was built to resemble the cathedral in Jerusalem.

The monastery's abbot Feofilakt said the late Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia had cared about the monastery with all of his heart and soul. It was his initiative to make the decision to begin comprehensive restoration.

"The patriarch wanted this monastery to be an image of the Holy Land where Jesus Christ had lived, but also as an image of the kingdom of heaven - New Jerusalem described in the Revelation of John the Evangelist," Feofilakt said.

The restoration of the New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow will involve several key phases, Alexy II said.

In addition to big construction and restoration work it would be necessary to revive monastic life, he said.

"The New Jerusalem should be restored as a great holy place of the Christian world and show everyone the true meaning and imperishability of our homeland," Alexy II said.

He noted that the monastery, built in the 17th century on orders from Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexei, had been an Orthodox spiritual centre and become "a spatial icon of the Holy Land".

"It was the Russian Palestine that attracted many pilgrims. Russian people who could not make long and dangerous trips to Jerusalem at that time had the opportunity to bow to Golgotha, the Holy Cross and other holy objects," the late patriarch said.

He recalled that "active devotional life in the monastery was combined with churchly enlightenment, record-keeping, icon painting and other crafts".

Charitable traditions were also quite strong at the monastery. "Almost all members of the Romanov family donated to the monastery generously," the Alexy II added.

"I also told the patriarch that the fund had been registered by the Justice Ministry, a certificate had been received and documents had been submitted for opening accounts so that the fund could accumulate donations for the restoration of the monastery," Feofilakt said.

Source: Itar-tass