April 11, 2013
On Wednesday, the French Court of Appeal had the last word in the litigation that had lasted for several years, assigning to the Russian Federation the ownership of St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice, reports RIA Novosti referring to France Presse.
In January 2010 the Court in Nice recognized Russia as the owner of the local St. Nicholas Cathedral, to which the Orthodox Association of Nice that had run the Cathedral for more than 80 years also laid claim. The Association disputed the verdict in the Court of Appeal and did not hand over the Church.
In May 2011 the Court of Appeal in Aix-En-Provence recognized Russia’s ownership of the Cathedral and the Orthodox Association of Nice was urged to accept the verdict and hand over the keys, but instead appealed to the highest instance.
By its resolution the Court of Appeal has rejected the appeal of the Orthodox Association of Nice, giving the last word on the dispute that had lasted for seven years.
St. Nicholas Cathedral was built by Tsar Nicholas II in 1912 on the site of the Villa Bermont in the main resort of the French Riviera, where his uncle and heir to the throne, Nicholas Alexandrovich, died in 1865. The land on which the Church was built had been acquired by Alexander II. In the 1920s the Orthodox Association of Nice began to run the Cathedral, but the terms of agreement for its free rental expired on December 31, 2007 and so Russia decided to get back its property through the courts. The action was filed in 2006.
According to the French media, this Church is visited by 150,000 people annually.
Representatives of the Russian emigration, Xenia and Nikita Krivoshein, hope that the Russian government will now be able to decide what to do about other large churches that were also built in Europe by the Russian Empire, reports Interfax-religion.
“Because of their temporary use, most of them are now in poor condition and are slowly crumbling. It can only be hoped that the decision in Nice will serve as a precedent for similar situations in Paris, Biarritz and other cities,” said Krivoshein. In 2013, works will start to restore the Church, funded by the Russian government and private sponsors.