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The head of the Russian Orthodox Church asks to defer utility bills

Source: RBC

Patriarch Kirill has asked Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to defer utility payments for church institutions, RBC reports. RBC cites a copy of a letter from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Prime Minister as its source.

Churches and monasteries usually pay utility bills using donations from parishioners, which have declined in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. As such, Patriarch Kirill has asked for a deferral on utility bill payments “for the period until restrictive measures are lifted and churches and monasteries resume full operations.” 

According to RBC’s source in the government, Mishustin has passed the letter along to the relevant departments, including the Construction Ministry and the Natural Resources Ministry. The two ministries told RBC that postponing utility payments could be possible if the parties involved reach an agreement. 

The Russian Orthodox Church has reportedly appealed to Gazprom for relief, as well. According to RBC, Gazprom’s representative refused to comment, but a source at the company said that they will consider appeals for gas payment deferrals from churches and monasteries on an individual basis.

  • Since the end of March, restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus have prevented many (but not all) Russian churchgoers from attending services.
  • On April 19, Orthodox Christians marked the Easter holiday, but many churches had to close their doors to the public and broadcast their ceremonies online. In some regions, where churches remained open, worshippers chose to attend services — some even wore masks and practiced social distancing. 
  • In Moscow, restrictions on visiting temples have been extended until April 28.
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