Russia demanded on Sunday that Israel hand over ownership of three Jerusalem churches to Russia, claiming historical precedent.
The three churches, all located on the Mount of Olives, are the Church of Mary Magdalene (pictured), Chapel of the Ascension, and the Viri Galilaei Church, which is also tied to Christ’s ascension.
Sergei Stepashin, Russia’s former prime minister and the person in charge of reclaiming Russian assets in Israel, said Russia is pursuing a legal claim in Israeli court for possession of the three churches.
The Church of Mary Magdalene is the burial place of Princes Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia as well as Princess Alice of Battenberg, grandmother of England’s King Charles III and Queen Victoria’s great-grand daughter. In 1993, Israel’s Holocaust memorial institution Yad Vashem declared the princess a “righteous among the nations.”
For its part, the Viri Galilaei Church is used as a summer retreat by the Greek Orthodox patriarch.
Russia is still battling to assume ownership of the Alexander Nevsky Church, built at the end of the 19th century adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is considered the most important Russian holding in and around the Old City.