- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - About 4,000 people have demonstrated in St. Petersburg to protest the handover of the city’s landmark St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the control of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The cathedral was taken over by the state during Soviet times and run as a museum. After the 1991 Soviet collapse it continued in that role, although it occasionally held religious services as well.

Many critics of the move also express concern about the growing power of Russia’s Orthodox Church, which is a leader of moves toward social conservatism.

Natalya Popel, a participant in Saturday’s demonstration, says “I want my grandchildren to visit St. Isaac’s Cathedral as a museum but not as a place with a certain religious ideology.”

Prominent cultural figures, including the director of the Hermitage Museum, have criticized the decision.

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