Who will get the property of Jehovah's Witnesses?
The sect "Jehovah's Witnesses", recognized as an extremist organization and banned in Russia, owned real estate worth 4 billion rubles
The Appeals Board of the Supreme Court of Russia issued a ruling this week to refuse to satisfy the complaint of the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses" on the previously adopted decision on its compulsory liquidation. The decision came into force, and from now on the largest totalitarian sect, functioning on the territory of Russia, is now outlawed. "Jehovah's Witnesses" are recognized as an extremist organization, their activities in the Russian Federation are prohibited, and property is subject to expropriation.
The fact that the state has finally become preoccupied with the activities of the sect can only be welcomed. It's a pity that it happened so late: "Jehovah's Witnesses" managed to catch 175 thousand naive souls in their networks (this is the number of members of the Russian branch of the banned organization). Another thing is who and how to dispose of the property of Jehovah's Witnesses. It's huge. And there are just as huge opportunities for abuse in this matter.
"Jehovah's Witnesses" is a sect with American roots, calling itself Christian, but based on its own, distorted version of the Bible. In accordance with him, for example, Jesus was crucified not on the cross, but on a pole, and therefore crosses worn by Orthodox are unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to celebrate birthdays and any public holidays. The blood transfusion is inadmissible-in the Jehovah's "bible" there is a direct ban on this. As a result of the refusal of medical care, tens of thousands of adepts of the sect, including young children, perished all over the world.
In Russia, the heyday of Jehovah's Witnesses, like other totalitarian sects, took place under Boris Yeltsin. The activities of the sect, which had a pronounced anti-Orthodox character, were warmly welcomed by the supporters of religious liberalism - one of them was the current chairman of the Human Rights Council under the RF President Mikhail Fedotov. In Jehovah's Witnesses in the 90s, mostly young people - students, senior pupils - left. Parent committees, created throughout the country, who tried to get the children back from the sect, were obstructed by the authorities. The Trial Chamber for Information Disputes under the President of the Russian Federation persecuted journalists who subjected the Jehovah's Witnesses to criticism. You could not even call them a sect - for this the media were warned.
On the site of the former "Congress Hall" on Kolomyazhsky Prospekt may appear a new shopping center or an elite house
The first mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak played a major role in promoting "Jehovah's Witnesses".
In 1992, he signed an order to allocate to the sectarians for a symbolic fee a huge plot of land (10 hectares) in Solnechny. There, on the site of the former pioneer camp, the "Jehovah's Witnesses Center for Russia and CIS countries" was created, a state-of-the-art printing plant was built - the largest in Europe, an office and hotel complex was set up for simultaneous residence and work of more than a thousand adherents, and the entire site was permeated with underground passages , Connecting buildings.
In 1996, shortly before the election defeat, Sobchak signed another order, according to which the sect (also for pennies) received a land plot (6 hectares) on Kolomyazhsky Avenue, where he organized the "Congress Hall". It was the first building that appeared on the territory of the Specific Park (shopping centers, office and residential real estate were built here much later), which caused protests not only of anti-sectarian, but also environmental organizations. However, Sobchak's decision was not canceled even after his resignation. The fact is that lobbying the interests of the organization, which is now recognized as extremist and banned in Russia, was engaged, according to media reports, Two high-ranking officials of the then St. Petersburg administration - head of the department for interaction with religious associations Elga Poreckin and vice-governor of culture Vladimir Yakovlev (namesake of the future governor). They kept their posts until 2000, and therefore the Jehovah's Witnesses in Petersburg felt at ease.
In the 90s the sect received land in other regions of the country. True, there the scale of state assistance to the Jehovah's Witnesses was incommensurably smaller. Nevertheless, by the time of the liquidation, "Jehovah's Witnesses" owned 211 properties in 57 regions of Russia with a total area of 292 thousand square meters. The cadastral value of sectarian real estate is 1.9 billion rubles. Market - about 4 billion.
In this case, the most expensive facilities are concentrated in St. Petersburg. Their total area is 124 thousand square meters. The cadastral value is 780 million rubles. Market - about 1.5 billion.
Real estate in Moscow is estimated more modestly - in 297 million cadastral or 600 million market rubles. The most expensive object is a house with an area of 3195 "squares" of the territory of the "Mikhalkovo" estate near Golovinsky ponds.
Anticipating the decisions of the Supreme Court, the Jehovah's Witnesses tried to save their property, but they did this condo. From January to April this year, they transferred 74 objects to foreign communities. The owners of prestigious real estate on the territory of Russia were the Swedish, Austrian, Spanish, Danish branches of Jehovah's Witnesses. The management center in Solnechny was rewritten even earlier - to the main office of the "Watchtower Society" in Brooklyn.
It is clear that the state will still take away from the sectarians buildings and land plots, recognizing the agreements on their concession or donation in favor of foreign organizations illegal. Such processes in the regions have already started. But it is not difficult to predict that this will be accompanied by diplomatic scandals. For example, in order to return Mikhalkovo, it will be necessary to enter into a conflict with Austria, and in order to return Sunny, it will be necessary to conflict with the United States.
The West will undoubtedly use the situation with a ban on "Jehovah's Witnesses" to inflame anti-Russian hysteria. The first signals are already there: the European Union condemned the decision of the Supreme Court and urged Russia to abolish it. The British Foreign Office made an even more harsh statement. The first deputy minister of this country named Tariq Mahmoud Ahmad expressed outrage at the ban on Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and pointed out that "the peaceful worship of 175,000 Russian citizens can not be declared illegal and contradicts the right to freedom of religion prescribed in the Russian Constitution."
In general, the expropriation of sectarian real estate will be difficult. But the main question is not even this. And in who will eventually receive this property.
In St. Petersburg, the skin of a dead bear has already begun to be divided. Virtual. In business circles, the question of using the four most interesting from the business point of view is discussed - "Halls of kingdoms" on Luzhskaya street, 10, and Chernyakhovskogo street, 71, "Congress hall" on Kolomyazhsky avenue, 21, and "Management center" in Solnechny. In the first two cases, buildings can become small shopping centers without special restructuring. In the case of Kolomyazhsky, the story is more complicated - in the twenty years since the signing of the Sobchakovsky order, this area has become very prestigious and expensive. For a plot of land will certainly unfold a serious struggle. The three-story "Kingdom Hall" will be demolished unequivocally, but what will appear in its place is a large shopping and entertainment center that would compete with the "Capitol" in the neighborhood,
And yet the most tasty is the site in Solnechny. It is in a luxurious place - between the railway and the shore of the Gulf of Finland, for developers it's just a gift of fate. According to some reports, individual construction magnates have already made visits to Smolny, indicating their interest in this place. But I think that the fate of Solnechny will not be solved in Smolny, but somewhere higher. And for this patch of land, a great battle will unfold.
Internet magazine "Interesting"