Since the beginning of the year a new law has permitted the return of expropriated church buildings. The Russian Orthodox Church has made ample use of the statute.
Up to 11,000 buildings could be transferred to the Russian Orthodox church. That would make it the largest property holder in the country after the Russian railway. But the fact that the church is also demanding back buildings that never belonged to it has awakened the suspicion among critics that the whole thing has more to do with greed than justice. At any rare, the church is certainly laying claim to many more buildings than it will be able to fill with churchgoers in the coming years.