HAVE MERCY ON BULGARIAN HOLY PLACES
The Bulgarian church Sts. Constantine and Helena in Odrin is threatened to be announced deserted, and its site - to become property of the Turkish state administration and be lent to new users. This was announced on Wednesday (October 9) by the General Consul of Bulgaria in Odrin Georgi Dimov at a meeting with Bulgarian journalists. The meeting was initiated by the committee for salvation of the Bulgarian holy place, headed by the folk singer Iliya Lukov and Radio Net. According to Mr. Dimov after the several devastating earthquakes which hit Turkey, the state enforced a number of amendments of local legislation which enabled it to confiscate property from careless users.Presently there are two Bulgarian churches in Odrin - St. George the Victorious and Sts. Constantine and Helena. The first one seems to have better fate as BGN100,000 from the 2002 Budget has been earmarked for investment in its reconstruction. The Sofia Municipaly showed willingness to help with BGN50,000 more and with an architectural project for restoration of the temple. St. George the Victorious is located in the Barutluk district of Odrin and was built between 1880 and 1888 on the order of sultan Hamid II. Private firms have also donated money for its salvation. The largest sum - BGN30,000, was provided by Sunny Beach AD.But the salvation of the second Bulgarian church in the city seems more like mission impossible. According to priest Alexander Chakuruk, who is in service of both temples, if by the beginning of winter no funds are found for enforcement of walls and the roof, the church Sts. Constantine and Helena will fall down. After a series of fires and for lack of simple maintenance, the building's roof has been totally ruined.The church Sts. Constantine and Helena is the older of the two. It is situated in the Kirishhane district and is said to have been built in 1869 for only six months. It's curious that construction works were started exactly on March 3. The Bulgarian consul Georgi Dimov underlined that our country hadn't had better relationships with Turkey for tens of years. With the help of Odrin's Governor Fahri Yudzhel this summer the area around the church Sts. Constantine and Helena was cleaned and its yard was fenced with money from the Odrin Commodity Exchange.About 1,000 Bulgarian imigrants are presently living in Odrin which is the 8th biggest Turkish city. Apart from the two churches, the Bulgarian cultural-historical monuments in the city include the military graveyard and the Peter Beron School which is presently an orphanage.