Photo Credit: Michal Fattal / Flash 90
Rainbow over Mount of Olives and the Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem, October 29, 2008.

Russia has demanded that Israel transfer ownership over three historic churches, all of them located on the Mount of Olives, to Moscow’s control.

Former Prime Minister of Russia Sergei Stepashin announced Sunday that he intends to file a lawsuit in an Israeli court to force the Jewish State to return ownership of the churches to Russia.


Stepashin is defined as “the head of the Palestinian Imperial Orthodox Society,” Ynet reported.

The three targeted properties are those of the Mary Magdalene Monastery, the Ascension Monastery and the Church of Viri Galilaei, which also serves as the summer residence of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, who is no fan of the Israeli government.

Princess Alice of Battenberg, grandmother of the UK’s King Charles III and great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, is buried at the Mary Magdalene Monastery. The princess was declared a Righteous Among the Nations following her death.

All of this comes as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is still awaiting a decision regarding the ownership of the Alexander Court complex in Jerusalem, which is in a strategic tourist location in the heart of the Old City.

Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Putin that Israel would transfer ownership over the site to Russia in exchange for the release of Israeli citizen Na’ama Issachar, who was jailed in Moscow for drug possession in 2019.

Issachar was released, but Israel has not yet kept its end of the deal. A special team of ministers is expected to be formed to discuss the issue and make a decision when the new government is seated.

“We worked on it for five years; we found all the historical documents, but the situation with Ukraine has cooled things down, and Israel is behaving as is customary in Israel – they decided not to decide, and they are playing games with us,” Stepashin said.

“Russia will apply pressure to gain control of the property.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.