Pro-Kremlin youth might soon start "camping" at Lake Seliger all year round, as the specially protected grounds of a local monastery are expected to be handed over to the Federal Youth Agency.
A letter to the governor of the Tver region, where the agency has been holding its annual summer forum since 2000, has been endorsed by Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy Minister Vitaly Mutko.
"The camp is developing, they want to tidy it up and stop living in tents,"
Hordes of young people have been descending on Lake Seliger's vicinity since 2000. And their numbers grew dramatically after gatherings of Kremlin-supporters from the Nashi and Idushchiye Vmeste movements were transformed into the All-Russian Educational Forum in 2009.
But camp-like gathering are soon to become history, as permanent facilities might be erected on an 18.76 hectare site, which was previously owned by the Nilov-Stolbensky Monastery, sources at the regional administration and the Sports Ministry told Izvestia.
Construction, which is expected to start in 2013 if not earlier, would cost just 125 million rubles. No information about the development project has been revealed so far but the funding seems to be rather modest, given that 200 million roubles have been allocated from the state budget for this year's forum.
The news about the looming construction has caused a stir in the region. "Local residents have become worried about the situation. That's why we've asked officials to give us with a clear answer about the monastery's lands," A Just Russia Duma Deputy Alexei Chepa,said. Chepa is drawing up a request to official bodies to check the legal grounds of the project.
The representatives of the monastery, however, don't seem to have a shared opinion on the matter. "We know nothing about it. Officially we haven't given the lands away," Father Pyotr, the monastery's spokesman told.
The head of the monastery, Father Arkady, told Izvestia that the territory could be passed to another owner.
"I have no concerns about it. I've always supported [the Seliger forum]. We've agreed to transfer the lands," he said.
Chepa was suspicious about the monks' position. "They are far from the political background of the story, in the first place. And secondly, it's likely that they have been pressured by the local authorities,"