Moscow needs a total of 907 active churches to reach the Russian average, said Vladimir Resin, who along with church leaders oversees a program to build 200 new churches in the capital.
The average Russian ratio is approximately 11,000 residents per church, while in Moscow every church has a total of 40,000 potential visitors and during religious holidays the figure may soar to as high as 100,000 visitors a day.
“Unfortunately, the 200 churches [planned for construction] won’t solve the problem for Moscow. To reach the average Russian figures, we need 591 new churches with 316 already active,” he said.
Resin was the first deputy Moscow mayor in charge of construction for the past ten years. He continues to oversee the church construction program after becoming a member of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.
The program to build 200 churches, initiated by the Moscow Patriarchate, was supported by a decree of then-Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in August 2010. Sergei Sobyanin, who took over as the capital’s mayor after Luzhkov’s dismissal, also expressed his approval for the program.
At the moment, construction sites have been chosen for all 200 churches, and 20 of them are already being built. Construction costs are estimated at 170-250 million rubles ($5.75-$8.45 million), depending on the building’s capacity.
According to the Religiopolis center of religious and theological studies, there were a total of 535 Orthodox churches in Moscow as of 2011, including chapels.