A vast Russian “spiritual and cultural centre” crowned by a golden-domed Orthodox cathedral – widely seen as a grand expression of Moscow’s quest to project an image of itself as a powerful, religious country – is set to open in Paris.
The 4,800 sq metre complex-features the newly-built Holy Trinity Cathedral capped with five gilded domes; a parish centre comprising an auditorium and foyer, offices and apartments; a French-Russian primary school for 150 pupils; and a cultural centre, including a bookshop, exhibition spaces and a coffee shop.
Vladimir Putin was due to attend the unveiling, highlighting the centre’s symbolic importance, until the Russian leader last week cancelled his planned visit amid a row with France and other western powers over the continuing war in Syria.
The construction project has also been marred by architectural, financial and political disputes. French officials have expressed concern that the building is a stone’s throw from a sensitive government compound. As well as housing France’s supreme magistrates council, the neighbouring Palais de l’Alma contains the Élysée Palace’s postal service and the private apartments of senior presidential advisers.
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