Russia to help saving historical shrines in Kosovo

Russia will take part in the restoration of Orthodox Christian shrines in Kosovo. In an arrangement with UNESCO, Russia will donate $ 2 mln for this in 2010 - 2011.

This money will be spent on restoring four Orthodox facilities which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list - the monastery of the Serbian Patriarchate in Peć, monasteries in Dečani and Gračanica and the church of the Mother of God in Prizren. Russia is also organizing the necessary administrative work and expert examinations. It will send there experienced architects, engineers and experts who will take part in the restoration works.

Since 2000, Albanian separatists have destroyed over 150 monasteries and churches in Kosovo. Many other historical monuments are also under a threat of being destroyed. All this time, Russia has been expressing its readiness to help restore the ruined shrines. The late Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II has many times called on the world's community to preserve the Kosovo heritage. The Russian Church has been constantly sending its representatives to Kosovo to help restore the ruined churches.

The chairman of the Department for external relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Hilary says that the program to restore the Kosovo heritage is still working.

"The Russian Church will continue to render feasible help to Orthodox Christians in Kosovo, in particular, to monasteries and convents. The Serbian clergy welcomes Russian monks and nuns when they come to Kosovo. After all, the Russian Church has a lot of experience in organizing monasteries - today, there are over 800 monasteries and convents in Russia. We can well help our brethren in Kosovo."

The UN sees preservation of the UNESCO world heritage as one of its primary tasks. About 200 countries are already taking part in the UN's program to preserve historical monuments. Russia's decision to donate money to save the Kosovo shrines is a part of the UN's humanitarian program for Kosovo.