Friday, 14 Nov, 2008 Offbeat
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Russian Orthodox Officials Are Looking for Stolen Church

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Russian orthodox officials are looking for a stolen church and offer a reward for anyone who can provide useful information. It seem that the local villagers, living in the area, dismantled the abandoned church piece by peace.

It is worth mentioning that the church was to be put back to business, but now things got difficult. The last time officials saw the two-story 200-year-old Orthodox Church of Resurection in July. Orthodox priest Vitaly of the Ivanovo-Voskresenskaya diocese outlined that back then the church remained intact, but in October, villagers living in Komarovo, which is located northeast of Moscow, had stolen the church by bricks.

Officials consider that the church's bricks were sold to a local businessman for 1 rouble (4 cents) per piece.

"Of course, this is blasphemy. These people have to realize they committed a grave sin," Vitaly told The Associated Press. The priests mentioned that currently police is investigating the case.

During the Soviet era the church served as shelter and school for disabled children but after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the building was closed. It had no religious valuables and after 1998 it was given back to the Orthodox church.

According to Vitaly, the diocese had plans to reopen the church for services. For the past several years the Orthodox church in Russia gained back its importance, with thousands of new churches being built or restored. Even today the church goes through a period of renaissance, but thieves or vandals that live in poor regions of the country continue stealing gilded icons or donations. The stolen objects are then sold for alcohol or drugs.

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