The Moldovan Patriarchy is doing "exclusive" business with candles. The price of candles sold by the Patriarchy and other dioceses exceeds 5 times the production cost, shows a new investigation RiseMoldova.

The candles sold by Moldovan churches are imported by the Moldovan Patriarchy and the Patriarchal Cathedral from the Russian Federation at a price of about 20 bani for a piece, a price that comes to be 5 times higher for a parishioner. The two institutions are the only ones who imported the product in 2014-2016, both being represented by His Holiness Vladimir.

The Patriarchy is the owner of the factory of candles from Condriţa Monastery, for which it imported paraffin for the past 10 years. In December 2014, according to the data obtained by Rise reporters, the institution also began to import the candles; the seller is an enterprise of the Russian Orthodox Church - OOO Sofrino.

The legislation on religious cults gives the religious organizations the exclusive right to produce religious objects for their own needs, including candles. Moreover, the law was amended by extending this right to trade church attributes and the Code on Administrative Offences was supplemented by an article which provided for fines of up to 35 minimum wages for those who will enter the “business territory” of the church.

In connection with this exclusive right the Patriarchy had a dispute with the Bishopric of Edinet and Briceni, on the grounds that the latter had no right to sell cult objects by itself. The case reached the ECHR, but in 2010 Edineţ and Briceni Episcopate and the Government have concluded an amicable agreement on the settlement of the case. Based on this, the ECHR closed the request of the Episcopate and the Government took the responsibility to pay 81,000 euros to the institution, from the budget, as compensation for damages and expenses.

In 2007, the legislation on religious organizations was again amended by a new law - the Law on religious cults and their components, renamed in 2011 the Law on freedom of conscience, thought and religion. The Code of Administrative Offences has also been repealed, being approved a new Code on Administrative Offences.

The changes did not affect the exclusive right of the church for businesses with religious objects and no penalties for those trying to compete with churches. 

The investigation shows that, in 2016, the Moldovan Patriarchal Church was the only religious institution that brought candles from the Russian Federation, the seller is still the enterprise Sofrino.

The whole investigation can be read here.

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