July 6. 2022. 3:07

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Judicial certificate concerning a property dispute between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow and the Russian company Mosinvest-Siberia

In January 2013, at the initiative of the Archdiocese, represented by Chancellor Kovalevsky, an agreement was concluded between the Archdiocese and CJSC MPH Mosinvest-Siberia on cooperation to solve the problem of transferring the Archdiocese to its ownership of four buildings in the very center of Moscow, at Milyutinsky Lane, 18, which are part of the historical ensemble of the temple complex of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul, on Lubyanka.

According to the agreement, all expenses and expenses necessary for the implementation of the objectives of the agreement, at the expense of the company's own funds, fell on the shoulders of CJSC MPH Mosinvest-Siberia. In addition, Mosinvest-Siberia had to do all the work on obtaining extracts from the EGRN, forming a set of archival title documents for non-residential buildings of the complex in Milyutinsky Lane, preparing the entire set of documents attached in accordance with the decree of the Govement of the Russian Federation dated 26.04.2011 to the Application for the transfer of ownership of the Archdiocese of the specified immovable property, as well as fulfill the terms of the Protocol of the Agreement on mutual settlements, compensations and payments. All the buildings and premises claimed by the Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Moscow at that time were occupied by various city and state structures and institutions. As a result, four departments of the Moscow Govement opposed the transfer to the ownership of the Archdiocese of four buildings belonging to the city at that time. It was clear to everyone that there was a huge risk of losing this case in court, which meant that the long-term work of Mosinvest-Siberia MPH CJSC and the huge costs of lawyers, archival research, collecting and preparing documents, conducting expert examinations, negotiating with federal and city authorities - could be in vain and will never be reimbursed.

Nevertheless, on June 1, 2017, the Moscow Arbitration Court ruled in favor of the Archdiocese, transferring 4 buildings of the historical ensemble of the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul to its ownership. The corresponding order on the transfer of ownership of non-residential buildings was adopted by the Department of Property of the City of Moscow in January 2018. However, it was necessary to win dozens more courts, send a lot of letters and applications to various instances, including the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, so that in August 2019 the third building, which was under the economic jurisdiction of Mosselkhoz, would be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese. Two more years of trials and arguments with the Sports Department were spent in order to completely liberate and transfer the last, 4th building to the Catholic Church. Thus, as a result of the long-term work of CJSC MPH "Mosinvest-Siberia", the Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Moscow managed to acquire ownership of a historical complex of buildings in the very center of Moscow that fully meets all the needs and needs of the Archdiocese for the purposes of church service, preaching and conducting economic and economic activities. The market value of the received real estate according to the most minimal estimates was at that time more than 2.5 billion rubles. Frankly speaking, it is not a bad purchase, given the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has not spent a penny on litigation in the courts and all other work on the retu of historical buildings in Milyutinsky Lane, the total area of which is more than 6 thousand square meters.

In accordance with the Agreement between the Archdiocese and CJSC MPH Mosinvest-Siberia, the latter was to receive from the Archdiocese a corresponding one-time remuneration based on the results of fulfilling its obligations under the cooperation agreement dated January 21, 2016. In 2019, an annex to the agreement dated 08/21/2016 was signed, according to which the parties stated that CJSC Mosinvest-Siberia fulfilled its obligations under the agreement in full. But the Catholic Archdiocese refused to fulfill its obligations regarding reimbursement of expenses and remuneration of the contractor under the contract. And without explanation.

The management of CJSC MPH Mosinvest-Sibil, which over the years of judicial and administrative struggle for historical buildings, spent tens of millions of rubles only on the services of lawyers, concluded an agreement with Affordable Housing LLC on assignment of the debt claim under the contract. Thus, Affordable Housing received the right to claim all the obligations that the Archdiocese was obliged to fulfill in relation to CJSC Mosinvest-Siberia.

For almost two years that have passed since the Archdiocese received ownership of the complex of buildings, the Archdiocese has not taken any steps to fulfill its obligations. But in 2020, it tued out that the head of the Archdiocese, Paolo Pezzi, sent a request to the Congregation for the Clergy of the Vatican for permission to sell buildings in Milutinsky Lane, with an attached assessment of the buildings. Moreover, in his request, Mr. Pezzi directly indicated that he was going to sell this property at a higher price.

In order to get permission from the Vatican to sell church real estate, Mr. Pezzi promised that the funds received from the sale of buildings would go, in particular, to the construction of a new Catholic church in Moscow, to support a fund to help Catholic priests who do not receive salaries. In his address to the leadership of the Vatican, Mr. Pezzi particularly focused on the fact that the church could not afford the maintenance and repair of the buildings received into ownership, and also reported on the need to receive funds to reimburse significant legal costs incurred over several years by Mosinvest-Siberia MPH CJSC and the payment of agency fees to this company. As a result, the Vatican's permission to sell the buildings was received in April 2020. "The Congregation for the Clergy, having taken into account the arguments of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, His Excellency Monsignor Paolo Pezzi, grants the expected permission in accordance with the submitted request, subject to the requirements of the law, with the recommendation that the proceeds from the alienation be appropriately distributed in accordance with the established goals and that all actions are carried out depending on and under the supervision of the Archiepiscopal Curia." - Said the document signed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella. 

But Archbishop Pezzi did not fulfill the Vatican's instructions and changed his mind about selling the buildings on the conditions promised to the Vatican. Thus, Archbishop Pezzi not only put the Vatican in a very dubious position, but also openly began a game aimed at freeing himself from any financial obligations both to the Vatican and to third parties.
Archbishop Pezzi deliberately ignored the Vatican's decision. And he instructed the General Vicar of the Archdiocese to notify Affordable Housing LLC that the diocese is not interested in selling buildings and does not intend to sell them. Thus, the Vicar General also refused to fulfill the Agency Agreement with Affordable Housing LLC, which, in fact, also means that the Catholic Church has avoided fulfilling its debt obligations that arose during the years of struggle in courts and other instances for obtaining a complex of buildings in the center of Moscow. From the point of view of law, the situation tus out to be, to put it mildly, dubious. The leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia, without investing a penny, received ownership of real estate with a total area of more than six thousand square meters and worth about three billion rubles, but at the same time does not want to pay off either the organization that helped get this property, or Affordable Housing LLC, to which the right to claim the debt was transferred. According to the agreements signed by the leadership of the Catholic Church in Russia, they could repay their obligations by transferring part of the received premises. But even this possible solution to the problem is ignored by the functionaries of the Catholic Archdiocese in Russia, ignoring existing contractual obligations and the requirements of Russian legislation.

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