Living history: Explore abandoned Russian church that «once held key to Berlin»

The Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, located in the village of Yaropolets in the Moscow Region and filmed on Thursday, has born witness to numerous important historical events throughout the years, from the German occupation in World War II to religious repression under Khrushchev. The church's main alter was sanctified in 1839-1840. «Services in the church did not stop being held... Еще until 1961. Even during the Great Patriotic War when German occupation forces were here, the Germans did not touch the church. However, under Nikita Khrushchev, Russian believers began to be persecuted again and the Church was closed and the churchgoers driven out,» Priest Mikhail Zavitaev explained. Although there is no documentary evidence, local legend has it that a key to Berlin, seized by Count Zakhar Grigoryevich Chernyshev following his infamous 1760 raid on the city, was once stored in the church. In an ironic twist of fate, the Germans then took back the key in 1941, when they occupied the area. Following its closure, the building was abandoned and looted. However, the first restorative work on the historic church began in April 2016, but it will likely take hundreds of millions of roubles to complete. «The church is currently in a state of disrepair and returning churchgoers are trying, with their humble means, to save this amazing church building,» Zavitaev said, adding «we have very little and absolutely no financing, so we use every opportunity to draw attention to our church to save it.»

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