Source: Associated Press
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV and NATALIYA VASILYEVA
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a compromise Thursday to ease tensions over a plan to build a Russian Orthodox cathedral in a popular park in the nation’s fourth-largest city that has sparked protests and drawn nationwide attention.
Unsanctioned protests in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg have been held for four consecutive days near a central park where two local tycoons are planning to build a new cathedral. Several dozen protesters have been detained and 21 of them have been handed jail terms ranging from two days to 10 days for disobeying police.
The protests reflect local outrage after authorities pushed ahead with the project despite complaints that the massive church would take away a rare green, recreational space in the city of 1.5 million people. The standoff also reflected the growing power of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose increasingly assertive stance about secular affairs has worried many in Russia.
Asked about the controversy, Putin said authorities must reach out to opponents of the project and work out a compromise.