Armenia gives church to Russian military

The church will become a clerical cultural center.

GYUMRI , Armenia, June 26 (UPI) — Armenia announced Friday an Orthodox Christian cathedral will be handed over to an adjoining Russian military base.

What military base deputy commander Archimandrite Andrey called “the biggest Russian Orthodox church in Armenia,” built in the 1920s, will become a clerical cultural center and permanent part of the Russian military installation in Armenia’s northwestern Gyumri region. Russia obtained a 49-year extension of its presence at the base in 2010.

The transfer of the church is an indication of the close ties between Armenia, a former Soviet republic, and Russia. Each is part of the six-member Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a mutual security bloc modeled after NATO and led by Russia. Its other members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

At a CSTO meeting Friday in Moscow, plans were discussed to establish a crisis response center to be used when member states encounter security threats. The information-sharing complex will be installed at an unidentified military base near Moscow.

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