Recently the electricity and water supply were turned off in several secular residents’ apartments situated in one of “Zimnyaya gostinitsa” building wings on Valaam Island. LLC “SENT” established by Valaam monastery did it on the pretext of a building reconstruction to create a spiritual and educational center. Let us recall that more than 320 million rubles were given for this purpose from national budget to NGO “Valaam” which was established by the monastery as well. At the same time in the same building wing there are both electricity and water in monastery staff’s apartments, in the laundry and in workshops, so the strike was dotted, aimed at ordinary people.
That is how multi-step of two subordinated to the monastery organizations ― non-governmental “Valaam” and commercial “SENT", ended. The first one suggested people moving to the mainland in a “voluntary-compulsory” way, even held draw lots for apartments in Sortavala city. The other one threatened to turn off the electricity and water supply.
Meanwhile, the draw scheduled for August, 18 did not take place as local citizens refused to participate in it. However, this did not prevent “SENT” from fulfilling its part of the plan.
Let us recall that the conflict between the Russian Orthodox Church institution and local secular citizens has lasted since the monastery moved back to the island in the end of 1980-s. Over the past quarter of a century the number of secular citizens decreased four times, the State Museum-Reserve and most of social institutions not directly connected to the monastery were closed.
The current round of conflict seems to be the last battle between monks and native islanders for “Zimnyaya gostinitsa”. And if the monastery used the court as its weapon before now, so turning off electricity and water supply in disagreeable local citizens’ apartments looks at least more like the use of prohibited methods, or even like a criminal case. The monastery logic is likely to come down to the fact that people, especially families with children, will hardly stay and live at the island without light and water. You cannot argue. Also the autumn frosts are just around the corner.
However, local citizens are not going to throw up their cards. They have already applied to the policeб now they are preparing a collective statement to the court, where they want to challenge the monastery actions.
Sergey Grigoryev, a deputy of Sortavala Urban Settlement Council, a citizen of Valaam Island commented on the situation in the conversation with «7x7» reporter.
“This organization [LLC “SENT”] turns off the electricity illegitimately, it's just bullying”, he said. “Last year all the electrical communications were overhauled; electrical panels, boards, cables, and wiring were replaced. And now they turn off the electricity under the veil of repairs which has been already done. And they turn it off like that ― I live in flat #24, and I do not have electricity; monastery employees live in flat #25, they have it; local citizens live in flat #26, they are without electricity now; but there is electricity in flat #28 where monastery staff live. It is all in one staircase. There is a selective power outage, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. so far. But the citizens have a contract with the energy retail company, and they pay their bills over the counter. So, what did the Valaam monastery do?
As Sergey Grigoryev pointed out, the situation with water is the same. At the moment local citizens do not have water, while they have it in the monastery laundry and hotel, which is situated on the same floor, as a reserve water supply is conducted there. Herewith many citizens have children, but even a toilet does not work in the hotel. The situation is complicated by the fact that the monastery is actually in charge of water supply. Herewith people regularly pay the bills for utility services.
“Yesterday I contacted the local police as a deputy. I was told they will react on citizens’ applications. The applications has been written, so let us see what happens. Generally this is similar to the repressions of the locals, I told them directly on the meeting that I will do my best to prevent a new 1937 year [time of Great Purge in USSR]”, Sergey Grigoryev said.
Gleb Yarovoy, «7x7»