Kremlin is ours, say heirs of Ivan the Terrible
Published 21/08/2010 | 05:00
THE Russian state has been given a month by a court to prove it owns the Kremlin after descendants of Ivan the Terrible filed a lawsuit to stake their claim to the Moscow landmark.
The Princes Foundation, an organisation representing the descendants of Rurik, a ninth century prince whose dynasty ruled until 1598, has argued that its ancestors built and lived in the 69-acre Kremlin complex and that it should now be returned to their ownership.
"The Kremlin belongs to the Ruriks," said Grand Prince Valery Kubarev (47), a Moscow businessman who said his family traced its roots back to Rurik.
The prince said he wanted "indefinite and 24-hour use" of at least one of the Kremlin's four palaces or of several of its 19 towers for the Princes Foundation, which he heads. The fortress has changed hands often in Russia's tumultuous history and past owners include two royal dynasties -- one of which is the Ruriks -- the Bolsheviks and the modern Russian state.
No official ownership of the Kremlin has ever been registered. The prince wants his foundation to be awarded management rights over the sprawling complex, for the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to be housed there, and for his foundation to be allowed to hold cultural, political and religious events there.
"The property was not purchased from us, was not lawfully taken away from us, and the federal authorities do not have any right to our property. The Ruriks demand the return of our property, rent from the government for the illegal possession of our property, and financial compensation," he said.
The Kremlin, once the seat of Soviet power, is now the official residence of President Dmitry Medvedev and his administration.
Lawyers for the Russian government have dismissed the lawsuit as a "farce" without merit and with no chance of success.
But a Moscow court has agreed to hear the case and, to the surprise of many, granted an appeal from the Ruriks obliging the government to provide evidence of its ownership. (© Daily Telegraph, London)