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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Little Church Finds Rebirth on Arbat

A chapel nearing completion on Arbatskaya Ploshchad may look small, but activists tending to its construction say it is big on political and cultural significance.


The chapel is being built in memory of the Boris and Gleb Church, one of the many Moscow churches leveled by the atheistic Stalin regime in the 1930s.


In addition to rectifying what are now viewed as mistakes of the communist past, restorers say, the project reflects Russia's search for social and political unity in the post-Soviet era.


Construction is being financed by the Fund for the Unification of Orthodox Peoples. The group's executive director, Anatoly Dmitriyev, said the chapel will be a memorial to more than a dozen churches that stood in the area in the 19th century.


The project has gotten attention from high places. President Boris Yeltsin laid the symbolic first foundation stone at the site in May, and he is expected to attend the consecration ceremony scheduled for Aug. 6.


Dmitriyev said the fund chose to restore the church of saints Boris and Gleb because, 925 years ago, they were Russian princes who died trying to unite Russia.


"This chapel is the visible symbol of unification and agreement, which have been as priority aims of the year by the president," Dmitriyev said.


Dmitriyev said the project has been given priority in the hope it can be finished and open in time for Moscow's 850th anniversary celebrations in September.


Dmitriyev declined to disclose the cost of the project. "This is all money coming from charity, so I don't think numbers really matter," he said.


Dmitriyev said the fund, set up two years ago, is sponsored by high-ranking government officials and business leaders.