Museum head defies Russian Orthodox Church over cathedral

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The director of a museums’ association has urged the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church to recall its bid to take control of St. Petersburg’s landmark cathedral, a move that has inflamed public passions in Russia.

Several hundred people rallied outside St. Isaac’s Cathedral earlier this month. The cathedral is technically a museum, and critics of the plan fear that its transfer from city authorities to the church may inhibit public access. Another protest is set for the weekend despite church officials seeking to assuage protests by vowing that access won’t be limited.

The 19th-century neoclassical cathedral is the city’s third most-visited site. A regular ticket costs 250 rubles (about $4), and it earned 650 million rubles (nearly $11 million) in 2015, according to its director.

In a letter to Patriarch Kirill late Wednesday, Hermitage Museum…

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