Backlash builds against a planned Orthodox church that's backed and would be partly funded by the Kremlin.
Orthodox cathedrals with their trademark golden onion domes are a familiar sight across Russia. And one may soon become part of Paris's famed skyline, right near the Eiffel Tower. French President Francois Hollande has just weeks to decide on a controversial plan to build a massive Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center in downtown Paris on the banks of the Seine River, on a UNESCO-protected world heritage site.
The project is staunchly opposed by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who has described the architecture as "pastiche" and "mediocre." But Moscow is reportedly putting diplomatic pressure on Hollande to approve the project and allow construction of the golden-domed white limestone and glass structure to proceed. In 2011, the online real-estate television station La Chaine Immo announced plans for the cathedral with enthusiasm, describing the building as a "happy marriage between tradition and modernity."
According to the report, architect Manuel Nunez Yanowsky's design comprises "two buildings dominated by five bulbs, one of which will be 27-meters high. An immense glass veil will serve as a roof and a 3,400-square-meter garden will be open to the public." However, opposition to this ambitious plan has quickly mounted in the French capital, where preserving the integrity of the city's famed architecture is taken seriously. In February of this year, Delanoe called on UNESCO to prevent the project's authorization. In response, Viktor Khrekov, a spokesman for the Kremlin Property Office, said Delanoe was only expressing "his personal opinion," which "has no legal significance."