Details 12:25 13 Oct 2021

How's the Church of St. Nicholas? Where are 25 million and what's the recovery stage?

On September 3, a fire broke out in St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church in Kyiv. People weren't injured, but one of the most famous architectural monuments of the capital was. While the state was launching the allocation of funds for restoration, the business was also uniting. On the first day alone, various Ukrainian companies raised UAH 17 million. And so the cooperation between the state and the private sector began.


Rubryka learned how businesses are looking for common ground with officials to save the church, what such cooperation can give in the future and how the Church is more than a month after the fire. But let's start with the fire itself.

Що там з Костелом? Куди поділися 25 мільйонів і на якому етапі відновлення

Ignition point

The evening of September 3. Near the Church of St. Nicholas, there are a fire department truck and ambulance. The smoke rising from the top of the building is filmed by residents of houses located a few kilometers away.

Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klychko would later say that the fire was extinguished by city rescue services, 15 SES specialists, and 4 units of equipment. Eyewitnesses would report 10 fire trucks and water shortages. Photos and short videos with the smoked Church would be actively posted on Facebook and Twitter. And at 22:40 the fire would be extinguished. By that time, 80 rescuers and 16 units of SES equipment would be involved.

Bishop Vitalii Kryvytskyi said that the fire most likely started as a result of a short circuit inside the organ during the rehearsal of the musicians.

Що там з Костелом? Куди поділися 25 мільйонів і на якому етапі відновлення

"Among the destroyed things, we have only a concert organ that burned to the ground and one chandelier that fell on the stairs of the presbytery. It was the organ that became the epicenter of the fire (short circuit during the rehearsal)… The whole temple is smoky and flooded with water. It's wounded, humiliated… but glorified," the bishop wrote on his Facebook page.

And the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko said that according to preliminary estimates, the restoration of the monument would require at least 75 million hryvnias.

"Unfortunately, we can't start repairing inside tomorrow. Much as one would like to and even with the full amount of money. First, we have to get the conclusions of the SES and examine what exactly is damaged and in what order it should be repaired," said Tkachenko. And at this stage, events around the Church began to slow down.

"It's history. Our pride," or Church and Ukrainian business

On September 4, Vladyslav Chechotkin, the founder of Rozetka, wrote a letter urging Ukrainian businesses to help restore the damaged building. According to him, his company is ready to allocate 1 million.

"It's already clear that the fire severely damaged the church and to save the building, reparation must begin before the onset of cold weather. Get started as soon as possible! We cannot stay on the sidelines. Rozetka will allocate UAH 1,000,000 for these works. We encourage Ukrainian businesses to join. It's our history. Our pride," Chechotkin wrote.

His next post included a list of businesses that took over the baton and also began to transfer money. The post was updated three times; Chechotkin added more and more new names and companies.

During the first day, entrepreneurs managed to raise 17 million hryvnias. Subsequently, the figure rose to more than 25 million.

As many as 5 million 840 thousand hryvnias were transferred by other concerned Ukrainians to the account published by the National House of Organ and Chamber Music of Ukraine to raise funds for the restoration of the Church.

After a while, Minister Tkachenko shared in his Telegram a landing created to inform in which direction the restoration of the church is moving. After that, the question arose: why, instead of at least the 25 million promised by the business, were only 17.8 million reported as of October 1? Where did the money go?

Spoiler alert: no treason. At least for now.

Що там з Костелом? Куди поділися 25 мільйонів і на якому етапі відновлення

Photo: State Emergency Service

21 businesses, a working group, and millions "stashed"

On September 9, Vladislav Chechotkin said that it was important for businesses to know where the donated funds were going and to see that the restoration of the Church was transparent. According to the entrepreneur, the Minister of Culture agreed with this, so when a supervisory working group was set up, it included business representatives in addition to representatives of the Ministry of Culture and organizations related to the Church.

21 companies decided to unite and nominate one person. The choice was made in favor of Mustafa Naiem, a lawyer and former people's deputy.

"I can say as a representative of 21 companies that delegated me: each business, if desired, could give its representative to participate in the working group… It should be borne in mind that the working group doesn't have effective leverage to influence the church restoration process. We can only observe. The working group exists to control that the money is spent on the needs for which it was allocated," Mustafa Naiem told Rubryka.

Масі Найєм

Mustafa Naiem

In total, the working group included nine specialists from the Ministry of Culture, representatives of the National House of Organ and Chamber Music of Ukraine, DKI LLC, Raiffeisen Bank, SCM, FUIB JSC, Mustafa Naiem, representing 21 companies, and also members of one of the religious communities.

However, despite the creation of a working group, which included business representatives, the communication conducted by the state hasn't been fully finalized, and this topic has almost disappeared from the info space.

"On September 6, BGV Group Management transferred UAH 1 million. We immediately responded to this challenge because social responsibility is one of the key principles of our company's development. After the first wave of publications, for some reason, there's no information on the development of the situation in the info space. I think big business reacted quickly. But the task of the state and state bodies is also to respond accordingly. That's why many people now have questions about the development of events," says Oleh Zontov, Communications Director of BGV Group Management.

According to Naiem, out of wanting to ensure the transparency of the state's work, the business decided not to transfer all the funds raised at once. It will be done when the design and estimate documentation is ready and when independent business experts confirm that it can be trusted.

"150 million have already been allocated for the restoration of the church by the state, and as far as I know, they're blocked. As a result, more than half of the amount has already been sent to the ministry's account, and the other half has been accumulated on the account of the charity fund, which will transfer the money as soon as it receives the relevant documents from the ministry," the business representative commented.

Mustafa Naiem says that at the stage when the ministry was agreeing on examining the Church, misunderstandings arose. In particular, entrepreneurs didn't like that instead of the company the private individual will be engaged in the examination. Nevertheless, the contract has already been signed and 388,976 hryvnias have been paid in advance from the funds provided by the business, which wasn't reported to the businesses.

After that, more detailed coverage of the costs of the Church was initiated. At the same time, a separate section on costs appeared on the landing developed by the Ministry of Culture.

The first stage of restoration of the damaged monument has been going on for a month now: a technical inspection of the building for accidents. Currently, certified experts are studying in detail how damaged the building structures, walls, roof, and stained glass structures are. They'll also determine what works are needed to strengthen the structures in the first place. Based on the examination, design and estimate documentation will be prepared, which should be ready in mid-October.

"It's very important to emphasize that the case with the Church and help from business can be a point of restoring confidence in the state. If everything happens transparently and efficiently, businesses will see that they can trust the state and invest in certain infrastructural problems when the state itself lacks resources," says Mustafa Naiem.


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