Court upholds Russia's claim to cathedral in France

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A French court Thursday rejected a claim by an Orthodox group to ownership of a grand cathedral ceded to the Russian state in the French Riviera town of Nice.

The appeal court in nearby Aix-en-Provence confirmed an earlier ruling that the Saint Nicolas Cathedral is now Russian state property, according to a copy of its decision obtained by AFP.

The cathedral was built by the last Tsar, Nicolas II, in the early 1900s before the Russian revolution. An Orthodox association which has occupied it since the 1920s claims ownership.

But the court ruling said that "the state of the Russian Federation is entitled to retake possession" of the cathedral, which contains hundreds of previous icons, since the original lease expired in 2007.

The association's lawyer Antoine Chatain said it would take the case to the highest appeal court. He said the modern Russian state could not claim the cathedral since the Tsar built it with his own money.

© 2011 AFP

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