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Background: Harvard has a set of 18 Russian bells purchased from the Soviet government in 1930, one of only five complete, intact sets of pre-revolutionary Russian bells left in the world. They came from Moscow's oldest monastery, which is now also the Patriarch's residence. The monastery has been trying to get the bells back for the past 20 years, but they have become part of Harvard's culture too, and the university is not just hoping to get rid of them. Also, the towers would have to be dismantled in order to remove them. Nonetheless, the dialogue has been amicable, and Harvard is willing to entertain the idea of their return.


Russian Church wants to bring back
St. Daniil Monastery bells from U.S.

MOSCOW. Dec 15 (Interfax) - The Russian Orthodox Church has called on the country's citizens to help raise funds to finance the return of 18 bells to Moscow's St. Daniil Monastery from Harvard.

"I think that we unanimously support the need to return these historical relics to the monastery, which needs to regain its original voice," the monastery's head Archimandrite Alexy told a news conference on Monday.

Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchy and Harvard University completed talks in the United States a few days ago. The negotiations produced a plan for returning the bells, which were sold by the Soviet authorities to U.S. industrialist Charles Crane in 1930.

Under the plan, Harvard will finance an assessment of technical possibilities and construction costs for the planned replacement of the bells. Further talks will take place if the assessment has a positive outcome. Russia, for its part, will provide funds for removing and transporting the bells, as well as installing new bells at Harvard.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II has already asked Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to help bring the bells back to Russia. "This event would be of tremendous importance not only for the Church, but also for the country's secular society and our entire culture," Archimandrite Alexy said.

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