Russian Orthodox church stolen - brick by brick

MOSCOW (AP) - Wanted: One missing Russian church. Orthodox officials in central Russia say an abandoned church building that was to be put back into use has been stolen by local villagers.

An orthodox priest says officials last saw the two-story Church of Resurrection intact in late July. He says sometime in early
October people from a nearby village dismantled it.

He says villagers apparently sold it to a local businessman for about 4 cents per brick.

He tells The Associated Press that would be blasphemy and the people must realize they committed a great sin.

The 200-year-old building, which no longer had its icons or other religious valuables, was used as a school for disabled children during the Soviet era before it was closed down in 1998 and turned over to the church.

In poorer, rural regions, vandals or petty thieves regularly steal gilded icons or donations from churches and sell them for alcohol or drugs.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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