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St. Isaac’s Cathedral wasn’t transferred to the Orthodox Church after all. A bureaucratic document essential to the transfer has expired

St. Isaac’s Cathedral, a major historic landmark in St. Petersburg, was scheduled in a controversial move to lose its status as a public museum and become an active institution of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, an order composed by St. Petersburg’s Committee on Property Relations that defined key protocols for the transfer has expired, Interfax reported.

The document, which is dated December 30, 2016, states that an agreement regarding the transfer of the museum’s collections to a status of use without pay had to be reached within 24 months, or by the end of December 2018.

The Committee on Property Relations announced that a new order could be issued should the Orthodox Church submit a new request for the transfer of the cathedral. No such request has been submitted at the time of this writing.

For its part, the Russian Orthodox Church had announced that the order in question would expire on January 30. The Church did not state whether it would attempt to submit another request to receive control of the cathedral.

In December 2016, St. Petersburg’s Committee on Property Relations ordered the transfer of St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church for a duration of 49 years. Georgy Poltavchenko, the former governor of St. Petersburg, reassured city residents that the cathedral would retain its function as a museum even after its transfer to the Church.

Members of Russia’s museum industry opposed the transfer, and St. Petersburg residents organized a number of protest marches in resistance to it. The Committee’s decision was also challenged in court.