The Russian Orthodox Church has been buying up real estate near military bases in Norway for years

Photo: Shad Madian/ Dagbladet.

Experts note that the presence of facilities near military bases owned by the Russian Federation can be a problem.

In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has acquired several properties in Norway, some located near military installations. This is reported by the Norwegian edition of Dagbladet.

The community in Bergen, associated with the Moscow Patriarchate, settled near one of the most important objects of the Norwegian armed forces – Haakonsvern. It is a port and a naval base.

In 2017 Christ’s Revelation Congregation purchased Søreide Prayer House located on a hill 3 kilometers from Haakonsvern. It offers a view of this naval base. Before the acquisition of this house, the religious community was located in the city center.

As the journalists note, there was no one in the prayer house at the time of their visit. Through the windows, one could see a spacious meeting room, books, children’s toys. On the windows – crosses, lamps. On the first floor, all windows are covered with blackout curtains.

RUVER: Old Søreide prayer house is located high in the landscape above the fjord from the naval base Haakonsvern. The Russian Orthodox Church bought the property in 2017. Photo: Shad Madian/ Dagbladet.

The ROC also has real estate in the province of Rogaland. In particular, in the cities of Klepp, Brunet and Karmøy. In the city of Stavanger in the same province, a former leader of the local Russian Orthodox community owns property near the NATO Joint Military Center. The house is located one kilometer from an important military facility.

In addition, the church has a congregation in Finnmark, near the border with Russia. They purchased property there in 2015.

Scientist Alfa Sefland Winge notes that the presence of objects near military bases owned by the Russian Federation can be a problem.

“Perhaps such buildings are not used for religious purposes. But I have no reason to say that this is happening. … If you imagine the whole range of possible measures, then you can disrupt the signals, perhaps listen to the signals, you can control drones from there, can offer accommodation to people who map the territory. There is a wide range of geodetic activities and possible failures that can be performed from such a base,” the expert says.

OVERVIEW: From the old prayer house outside Bergen, there is a view of large parts of the Navy’s fleet. Photo: Shad Madian/ Dagbladet.

She also notes that this problem should be considered with extreme caution, avoiding accusations since there is freedom of religion.

The priest of Christ’s Revelation Congregation, father Dmitry Ostanin, commenting on the information received by journalists, assured that his church does not pose a threat. He stressed that he is Ukrainian by origin; some of his relatives were forced to move to Norway because of the war, which he condemns, while others still suffer from shelling.

“Together with my parishioners, most of whom are now refugees, I am doing everything to help the Ukrainians. This also applies to financial assistance – we support the crisis center in Dnipro, which picks up children in bombed-out cities and takes them to a safe place. … Then Patriarch Kirill supports this horror, fortunately, does not apply to everyone who professes Orthodoxy,” he comments.