The Baltic Region

2018 Vol. 10 №4

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Legal regime for church property in Russia and the Baltic states



In this article, we carry out a comparative analysis of the legal regimes for church property in the Baltic States and in Russia after the demise of the USSR,. We stress the significance of this problem for the newly established relations between the state and the religious organisations, for the conclusion of agreements between these actors, and for the development of the ideas of interdenominational peace and intergovernmental relations. In this study, we aim at identifying the similarities and differences between the legal regulation of the state/denomination relations regarding church property, as well as the economic component of these relations. We analyse the regulatory documents of Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia that enshrine the transfer (return) of the church property, which was seized illegally in the first Soviet years in Russia and during the incorporation of the Baltic republics into the USSR, to the religious organisations. We compare the restitution, which was carried out in the Baltics, with Russia’s moderate approach to the transfer of religious objects to religious organisations. We conclude that the international factor affects the resolution of the church property issue and that the economic benefits of the property transfer are unclear. The transfer of the church property is associated with additional expenditure incurred by the state. In conclusion, we consider the reasons why the complete transfer (return) of the church property seized in the Soviet period is impossible.